Almanacs, with their calendars, weather forecasts and astronomical information, were often coveted possessions in early American households. Indeed, one 19th-century historian claimed that almanacs and bibles "were the two books most likely to be found in Christian" homes. Though now lost to history one of the very first books thought to be printed in North America was an almanac published in Boston 1639.
Though now generally associated in the public mind with farming and farmers, they were used by many. Their popularity led to the growth of "special interest" almanacs published by groups like temperance societies, abolitionists, and Christian groups who used them to spread their messages. For this reason such almanacs and others such as medical or comic almanacs were retained in the home long after "their year was over."
Almanacs may be of great use to historians and researchers. Collected within their covers are examples of folkways, historic and scientific information, and wisdom of their times. This collection from Conner Prairie's Archive includes almanacs ranging from 1783 to 1857. It includes a rare second edition of the Farmers Almanac from 1819 and such diverse publications as the Western Comic Almanac, Anti-Slavery Almanac, and Jaynes Medical Almanac.
This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
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