When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few.
December 19, 1732 – Benjamin Franklin first published Poor Richard’s Almanac.
Poor Richard’s Almanack was a yearly almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of “Poor Richard” for this purpose. The publication appeared continually from 1732 to 1758. It sold exceptionally well for a pamphlet published in the Thirteen Colonies; print runs reached 10,000 per year.
Almanacks were very popular books in colonial America, offering a mixture of seasonal weather forecasts, practical household hints, puzzles, and other amusements. Poor Richard’s Almanack was also popular for its extensive use of wordplay, and some of the witty phrases coined in the work survive in the contemporary American vernacular. The Almanack contained the calendar, weather, poems, sayings and astronomical and astrological information that a typical almanac of the period would contain. Franklin also included the occasional mathematical exercise, and the Almanack from 1750 features an early example of demographics. It is chiefly remembered, however, for being a repository of Franklin’s aphorisms and proverbs, many of which live on in American English. These maxims typically counsel thrift and courtesy, with a dash of cynicism.
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