So lets take 1888 as an example. Typing prominent events in 1888, or just 1888 into Google reveals the following in Wikpedia:
- January 13, 1888 - The National Geographic society was founded in Washington DC.
- March 11, 1888 - The Great Blizzard of 1888 shuts down most of the Eastern Seaboard.
- May 30, 1888 - Hong Kong's Peak Tram begins operating.
- June 15, 1888 - Wilhelm III becomes German emperor and king of Prussia.
- June 19, 1888 - The Republican convention is held in Chicago. Benjamin Harrison is nominated for president.
- June 29, 1888 - Handl's "Israel in Egypt" is recorded onto a wax cylinder in London and is the earliest recording of classical music.
- August 5, 1888 - Bertha Benz completes a 40 mile drive in a car manufactured by her husband Karl Benz. It is the earliest long distance car ride in history.
- August 7, 1888 - The first of the Whitechapel murders by Jack the Ripper.
- August 10, 1888 - The world's first engine driven airship flight.
- September 4, 1888 - George Eastman registers the Kodak patent.
- September 27,1888 - Stanley Park in Vancouver is opened by mayor David Oppenheimer.
- October 9, 1888 - The Washington monument opens in Washington, DC.
- November 6, 1888 - Benjamin Harrison wins the US presidential election.
- December 7, 1888 - John Boyd Dunlop patents the pneumatic bicycle tire.
- December 23, 1888 - After a fight with Paul Gauguin, his friend, Vincent Van Gogh cuts off the lower part of his left ear.
This is just a sampling of some of the significant events from Wikipedia. There are many more links to sites that will give you many more than just this. By selecting "Images" in you Google search, you can find images of these events:
A street in New York during the Great Blizzard
All of this will provide much historical context that will bring your collection to life. Now, lets look at the stamps issued in 1888. Typing stamps issued in 1888 with "Images" selected in Google gives us these stamps:
25 centavos stamp from Argentina Two pence stamp from New South Wales
Stamps from Russia issued in 1888. Sarawak 6c Stamp
US 90c stamp showing Commodore Perry 4d Bechuanaland Protectorate
this was part of what is now South Africa
Wadhwan state was one of the Indian A Hermes head stamp from Greece.
Feudatory states that had its own stamps.
Martinique - a small Island colony.
Typing 1888 into the stamp category on E-Bay will give you many more results than this. You will be able to weave a collection like this into a rich history of the world for that year. It can be a great deal of fun trying to see how many stamps you can find that tie into the dates and events for the year that interest you.