Almanacs

The almanac had an essential place in early American homes where no other form of literature entered and where, often, not even the Bible and the newspaper were found. Today, scholars turn to almanacs because of the variety of material found within them. Besides the calendar pages, an almanac includes farming advice, medical and domestic recipes, literary excerpts in verse and prose, political exhortations, useful lists of roads and schedules of courts, tables of money, and popular humor.

The collection consists of over 15,000 almanacs printed from 1656 through 1876 in the United States, Caribbean, Canada, and Mexico. About three-quarters of all the almanacs published in America through this period are at the Society, the only such comprehensive collection in existence. The Society actively acquires missing titles and issues.

A special feature of almanac cataloging at AAS is authorship attribution. Numerous almanacs were published anonymously or pseudonymously, but many of their calculators have been identified through close comparison with other almanacs for the same year and region. Identification of the authors of many of these has considerably expanded the work of known calculators. In the process of working with the collection, Richard Anders compiled two volumes of extracts that shed light on complexities of the calendars pages. For personal recollections, see Richard Anders, "A Cataloguer and His Almanacs," The Book: Newsletter of the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture, no. 20 (March 1990). The story of the formation of the almanac collection at AAS has been told in Clarence Brigham's Fifty Years of Collecting Americana.

Access

The U.S. and Caribbean almanacs are fully cataloged online in the

Since the general catalog is limited to displaying 10,000 results, researchers need to add additional limiting search terms "Genre/Form" searches for the term almanac.

Resources

Anders, Richard. A Compilation of Material Relating to the Contents and Uses of Almanacs. Worcester, Mass. : s.n., 1994.

Brigham, Clarence. Fifty Years of Collecting Americana. Worcester, Mass.: AAS, 1958: 11-17.

Almanacs in the library printed from 1821 through 1849 are shown in Milton Drake's bibliography, Almanacs of the United States, 2 vols. (New York, 1962), and those through 1876 are readily accessible by means of simple lists and files at the Society.

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