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by Beth Farwell, Associate Director for Central Libraries

It was a dark and stormy night.

Actually, it was a perfectly sunny day. A day clearly conjured up by our guest and chief weather anchor for KWTX News 10, Rusty Garrett. Traveling a short distance to Baylor campus, Mr. Garrett visited Moody Library and traveled a long distance back in time to the 18th century when weather news was packaged in small paper almanacs.

Rusty Garrett is the perfect host to introduce you to these fascinating historical and rare documents. I predict fair weather ahead.

Mr. Garrett reads Poor Richard
Mr. Garrett reads Poor Richard
Who is Rusty Garrett?

Rusty Garrett has been a member of the KWTX team since 1989 and a student of weather science and broadcasting since high school. His wife Ann is a local schoolteacher and they are the proud parents of a son, Will, who is an Air Force Dental Tech stationed in San Antonio at Lackland Air Force Base.
Mr. Garrett has worked tirelessly to better the Central Texas community through volunteer work, fund raising, and successful family weather safety programs. Rusty is also active in the Masonic fraternity. He holds a 32nd degree endowed membership in the Scottish and York Rites and in 2007 was installed as District Deputy Grand Master for The Grand Lodge of Texas. He is Past Master of Waco’s Fidelis Masonic Lodge #1127.

A few hundred years earlier, another Masonic member was busy in his Philadelphia print shop. Ben Franklin (1706-1790) began printing his famous “Poor Richard’s Almanack” in 1733.

Rusty & Beth investigate almanacs
Rusty & Beth investigate almanacs

Who is Poor Richard?
“Poor Richard” is a title used by Ben Franklin from his pseudonym Richard Saunders.

What is an almanac?
In addition to weather predictions, an 18th century almanac was a book or table that had a practical use as a calendar, church festivals, astrological notes, miscellaneous literary works, and weather guides with seasonal suggestions for farmers. These were the least expensive kinds of books to print and were often produced in large quantities. For many homes, the almanac was one of few printed books owned and these became highly influential and popular modes of communication.
The origins of almanacs could be traced back to 3000 B.C. with the pyramids, time tables and calendars with the beginnings of astronomy.

Mr. Garrett & Poor Richard
Mr. Garrett & Poor Richard

Throughout the Baylor Libraries’ collections, there are numerous forms of almanacs spanning centuries. Almanacs published in colonial America are particularly interesting containing statistics, proverbs, medical advice and remedies, and even poetry. While a very practical tool for farmers, it served as an information source and entertainment in homes where print owned materials were scarce.

What is Rusty looking at?
Baylor Libraries has original almanacs from two of the most famous almanac publishers during this time period.
Nathaniel Ames Almanac 1741
Nathaniel Ames Almanac 1741

Nathaniel Ames was a physician and student of astronomy. Living in Dedham Massachussetts, Ames published The Astronomical Diary and Almanack in 1725 until his death in 1764. While we don’t have direct evidence of quantity, paper companies have estimated that Ames’ almanacs printed no less than 60,000 copies annually. Baylor Libraries' original is dated 1741. You can view the original by making an appointment or see the entire almanac online in our Baylor Digital Collections Click here

Poor Richard's Almanac 1761
Poor Richard's Almanac 1761
Another original document is a 1761 Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard almanac. In addition to seeing the original here in the library, you can also view this one in our Digital Collections Click here

Franklin’s almanac has significant potential for researchers. This particular year in 1761 contains four introductory pages discussing the importance of small pox inoculations and other medical advice. Earlier, Franklin had dismissed the importance of inoculations but became an advocate following the loss of his son to small pox at age 4 in 1736. Other pages contain his well-known proverbs woven tightly into the chart. See if you can find this proverb found on page 20: “Fear can keep a Man out of Danger, but Courage only can support him in it.”
Ben's proverb
Ben's proverb


Even the title pages are interesting. Compare the Ames to the Franklin and you can see the political atmosphere and the lack of a “nod” to King George.

By the early 1800s there were approximately 500 various almanac titles published. Around this time, Robert Thomas established the Farmer’s Almanac which has changed very little since then.

As you can see, these almanacs are rich with history. Rusty and I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on a few of Baylor’s treasures. Please stop by in person or stroll through our Digital Collections. I wonder what Ben would think of his almanac viewed on the internet?

For more information, please visit our webpage www.baylor.edu/lib/centrallib/index.php?id=97560
1820 almanac
1820 almanac


Many thanks to Mr. Garrett for taking time out of a busy schedule to help highlight these treasures. And a big thank you to Ben Johansen for his mad awesome photography skills!

by Beth Farwell, Associate Director for Central Libraries

Did you hear about the recent national news story covering the opening of the time capsule in Boston? The capsule was first placed in the Massachusetts State House cornerstone in 1795 by Governor Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and William Scollay. You can read the article or watch the video here at the Boston Globe.

Even if you aren't a history buff, opening time capsules are thought-provoking events. What was chosen for future generations to see? What conversations lingered into the wee hours while deciding what to add? What got left out of the box? What are the stories behind each item?

As Michael Comeau the executive director of the Massachusetts Archives stated "How cool, is that."

Very cool.

Far from Boston, Moody Library is home to several original items dated the same year the cornerstone was laid. The time capsule was put in place in Boston on July 4, 1795.
Earlier in March of 1795 an hour drive from Boston (or perhaps 11 hours walking), Eli Forbes preached a sermon in Gloucester titled “The importance of the rising generation.” Here is an image of the sermon's title page from the original 1795 copy housed in Moody Library.

Forbes sermon
Forbes sermon

You can read more of the sermon by visiting our webpage (http://www.baylor.edu/lib/CentralLib/index.php?id=97560) and make an appointment (call # = BX4253 .F67x)

A day after the cornerstone was laid in Boston, Morgan Rhees delivered a discourse in Greenville, Ohio to the American Army regarding peace and the treatment of Indians. Below, you can see Baylor's original copy of the title page and first page of the discourse.

Rhees discourse title page
Rhees discourse title page

 

 

 

Rhees discourse
Rhees discourse

 

Continue your research by visiting our webpage (http://www.baylor.edu/lib/CentralLib/index.php?id=97560) and make an appointment (call # = E93 .R46)

For a little more drama if we look across the pond to London England, Daniel Isaac Eaton printed and sold "The British tocsin; or, Proofs of national ruin." This 1795 printing followed his arrest and subsequent exoneration during the 1794 Treason Trials in England. This document has great potential for building your research with primary sources in colonial American and British histories. Moody Library houses the 2nd printed edition dated 1795.

Eaton
Eaton

View this document by visiting our webpage (http://www.baylor.edu/lib/CentralLib/index.php?id=97560) and make an appointment (call # = DA35 .B7x 1795)

Baylor Libraries are excited to share these exceptional 220 year old treasures with you.

How cool is that!