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The 20th century is indeed the information age. You can find just about anything that you need on the Internet, from the weather conditions in your area to the latest software reviews and programs. You can also read the latest news to finding advise on anything. In the area of print, you can find miscellaneous information through almanacs. Almanacs are good resources for quick facts on anything from weather forecasts, moon phases or when to plant your flowers. This miscellaneous information was also available in 18th century almanacs.

These pamphlets were the miscellaneous information sources of the 18th century. They provided information on the tides, phases of the moon, when to plant crops, and other information, useful for day-to-day living.

17th and 18th-century almanacs featured astrological forecasts; later editions dealt more with facts. They are among the oldest types of reference books and originally were simple calendars with notes about principal holidays, weather predictions, and astronomical observations.

One of the most famous almanacs is Poor Richard's Almanac, produced by Ben Franklin, which first appeared in 1732. The 'Almanack' had a calendar with weather forecasts for the year. It included amusing stories, jokes and proverbs. The homely sayings, which Franklin published under the pen name Richard Saunders, made him famous as a rustic philosopher.

Another is the Old Farmers Almanac, which is still in print today, was first published in 1792 during George Washington's second term as president.

Today, there are plenty of almanacs on the market. From the current edition of the Old Farmers Almanac to Almanacs, that covers specific interests, like sports and politics. These Almanacs are a legacy of the early almanacs of the 18th century.

Other Websites

The Wikipedia website gives a general overview of Almac history. It includes other links to websites about almanacs.

History of the Farmer's Almanac
Mary Bellis ( Guide to Inventors), gives a short overview of almanacs including information about Bennjamin Bannaker, who is best known for his six annual Farmers' Almanacs.

Conner Prairie Almanac Collection
The Indiana University Library provides information about this collection of Almanacs. You can even read some of these almanacs online.


Portions of this article were excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Copyright © 1993, 1994 Compton's NewMedia, Inc.