New England Almanacs

New England almanacs

We have followed with some care the development of the Massachusetts almanac; we have seen it reflect in its earlier years the deep religious feelings which characterized the colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay; we have noted it transformed later into the practical and attractive calendar which was suited to an earnest and busy people who inhabited the growing and prosperous provinces of the eighteenth century, and we have found still later the reflection in its pages of the large movements towards the better living of a free and independent people.

– Notes on the almanacs of Massachusetts, Charles Nichols, 1912

The first New England almanacs were printed in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts almanac market remained a local one, with the majority of its volumes supplied by local writers and printers. While the almanacs often included some religious content, the inclusion of other content with no ties to religion made the volumes unique in the homes of many early Massachusetts residents as the only "secular" publication they owned¹.

Northern American almanacs tended to be more pious in theme and contents than Southern almanacs, while Southern almanacs contained more literature, particularly narratives, and more articles on planting crops and gardening².

College vacations for 1826 and Yearly and Quarterly Meetings of Friends in New England
Song written for the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association
Pages from an 1811 almanac with narrative religious content
A Moral and Physical Thermometer

¹David Harold McCarter. “‘Of Physick and Astronomy’: Almanacs and Popular Medicine in Massachusetts, 1700-1764,” (PhD dissertation, University of Iowa, 2000), 14, 21.

²Marion Barber Stowell, Early American Almanacs ; the Colonial Weekday Bible (New York: B. Franklin, 1977), 273.