- May 7 -- Construction started on Michigan's Mackinac Bridge.
- May 17 -- US Supreme Court hands down decision in Brown v. Board of Education
- May 20: Chiang Kai-shek becomes president of Nationalist China
- West Germany wins Football World Cup in Switzerland
- First flight of a B-52 Stratofortress
- Physics - Max Born, - Walther Bothe
- Chemistry - Linus Carl Pauling
- Medicine - John Franklin Enders, Thomas Huckle Weller, Frederick Chapman Robbins
- Literature - Ernest Miller Hemingway
- Peace - The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees.