- January 1 - Australia is federated as an independent nation under an act of the British Parliament.
- The first Nobel Prize ceremony is held in Stockholm
- Baseball (US) : The American and National Leagues agree to peacefully coexist and organise a World Series between their champions, which would be first held in 1903.
- Change of US presidency from William McKinley (1897-1901) to Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
- December 12 - Guglielmo Marconi recieves the first trans-Atlantic radio signal in Newfoundland, Canada; it is Morse code for the letter "S."
- May 5 - Blind Willie McTell, blues singer.
- May 20 - Max Euwe, Dutch world champion chess 1935-1937
- October 10 - Alberto Giacometti, Italian sculptor
- March 27 - Carl Barks, Donald Duck illustrator
- Physics - Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
- Chemistry - Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff
- Medicine - Emil Adolf von Behring
- Literature - Sully Prudhomme
- Peace - Jean Henri Dunant, Frédéric Passy