Ye olde almanacks

Sometimes it is easy to forget that agriculture was once a necessity of life for most of the people who lived in the area. If you didn’t grow it, you didn’t eat.  So besides a hoe and some land and a lot of hard work, what is one of the farmers most useful tools? The almanac!

We have a neat collection of almanacs which have finally made it upstairs thanks to the new shelving.  Our earliest almanac is from 1766 and was calculated for the meridian of Boston. It contains “Ephemeris; Aspects;  Spring tides; Judgments of the Weather; Feasts and Fasts of the Church; Courts in Massachusetts bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode-Island; Sun and moon’s rising and setting; Moons place; Time of High water;  Public roads; with the best Stages or Houses to put up at: Eelipses; with a Representation of the solar eclipse on the 5th August, &c. &c. &c. by Nathaniel Ames.” It is a neat little pamphlet, eight pages total and all the available space is used. Each month is chock full of information, and includes a small poem at the top of the page. There are little notes written in the margins and a flowing, elegant script.

I was curious to see how these developed over time, so I picked out the 1813 almanac to compare the contents–especially knowing the British conflict was a current event. Curiously enough the 1813 book is the Clergyman’s Almanack. It contains much of the astronomical and weather information, as well as a wealth of religious information, tables for stages, postage, currency conversion, missionary and bible societies and finally listings of college vacations.

What fascinating little snapshots of the day to day in New England! For a full listing of the collection check out the Catablog.
Front cover of a New England Farmer's Almanac from 1816

The notes around the margin of this almanac indicate that the owner planted barley, flaxseed and peas in May.
Interior pages and notes for a New England Farmer's Almanac in 1816

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