New England Almanacs

Calendar pages

The calendar pages of an almanac were meant for frequent reference. A month may span one or two pages and would often have an illustration and verse at the top of the page, with information divided into several columns below. Information present may include:

  • Date and day of the week
  • Time of apogee and perigee of the moon and the timing of the tides, and the day and time of "full seas"
  • Rising and setting of the sun and the moon
  • Quarters of the moon, important for predicting a moonlit night, and for various popular astrological reasons
  • The "moon's place", or the zodiac sign that the moon would be in, indicating the part of the body it would be "governing"
  • Weather predictions
  • Miscellaneous information such as court dates, feast dates, and information of historical significance
Leaf from 1808 Farmers Almanac, with Explanation of the Calendar Pages at bottom
Two-page spread of calendar pages for July 1808

In addition to identifying good days for planting and harvesting crops and slaughtering animals, or for days with favorable weather for travel, many readers made their own annotations in the margins of their almanac. Readers made notes on actual weather conditions (in contrast to the almanac's predictions), travel, visitors received, illnesses and treatments, crops sown or gathered, and about their farm animals¹. Some examples of these annotations in Tisch's almanac are found in the carousel below.

¹David Harold McCarter, “‘Of Physick and Astronomy’: Almanacs and Popular Medicine in Massachusetts, 1700-1764” (PhD dissertation, University of Iowa, 2000), 43.