The Legacy of The Old Farmer's Almanac
You can recognize The Old Farmer’s Almanac by the yellow cover and the large red digits in the center indicating the year of publication. The cover is essentially unchanged since the 1850s.
How Is This Almanac Different from Other Almanacs?
When this Almanac was first published by Robert B. Thomas in Massachusetts in 1792, there were other almanacs—there always have been a few farmer’s almanacs published. Most were regional publications, selling in local areas and reporting on local items (court dates, rates of postage, distance between towns, and the like).
When this Almanac was founded, we had an agrarian society; that is, everyone grew their own food (there were no groceries as well stocked as we have today). People needed and looked for advice on maintaining farms and fields, planting, tending, and harvesting as well as, weather. Astronomy was long an interest of people of that day (they had no TVs or radio to amuse themselves in the evenings); they wanted to know the time of the sun rise and set, the Moon phases, when high tide would be, and the like. They wanted recipes for their garden produce, as were general interest news and amusing stories—all of which were found in our Almanac.
Other almanacs provided similar information—and still do. But ours provided information that was “new, useful, and entertaining” and so survived to become the oldest continuously published periodical in North America. In the 1848, it officially became the OLD Farmer’s Almanac.
Why Has the Almanac Survived Since 1792?
We estimate that our Almanac has survived and thrived all these years because we have maintained Robert B. Thomas’s mission: “to be useful with a pleasant degree of humor.” That, plus a high degree of accuracy in all of the content (from the weather to astronomy to the historical features to the astrology and more) plus a little bit of luck has no doubt made this the most popular Almanac for years.
By the way, there is a full set of this Almanac in the Smithsonian Institution. No other farmer’s almanac can claim that honor.