New England Almanacs

Almanac contents

Early American almanacs were typically created in an octavo format, where a single sheet of paper was folded to produce 16 pages¹. Later almanacs typically had 24 or 36 pages². Almanacs from Tisch's collections in this exhibit range from 16 pages to 48 pages.

At a minimum, all American almanacs contained a title page and a calendar, with at least one page per month. Beyond those basics, a variety of additional content was included in various almanacs including weather predictions, astrological information, essays, poetry, and humorous anecdotes, farming tips and health advice, and informational tables and lists such as court schedules, local roads and distances between towns, and interest and currency tables.

Few almanacs addressed justice issues; an essay entitled "Thoughts on the Nature and Dreadful Effects of War" in a 1764 volume by John Tobler that advocated for better treatment of Native Americans and blacks by "pious European Christians" was one of very few examples³.

"Lady's almanacs" explicitly targeted female readers, but content directed primarily towards women could be found in many almanacs, including gardening tips, recipes, and health care advice. Notably, almanacs rarely included childbirth or child rearing advice⁴. Tisch has a 1865 example of a "lady's almanac" not included in this exhibit. Find it in the Tufts Digital Library here.

The collections below contain examples of the different types of content found in Tisch's almanacs.

¹Madeleine Hudson, “Future Events We unto Thee Impart’: A Transatlantic Examination of Almanacs in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries” (Masters thesis, Tufts University, 2015), 5.

²Thomas A. Horrocks, “Rules, Remedies, and Regimens: Almanacs and Popular Medicine in Early America” (PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 2003), 6-7.

³Robert Tolbert Sidwell, “The Colonial American Almanacs: A Study in Non-Institutional Education” (Educat.D. dissertation, Rutgers, New Brunswick, 1965), 357-358.

⁴Horrocks, “Rules, Remedies, and Regimens," 11-12.