The World Almanac

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World Almanac
World Almanac.jpg
CountryUnited States
PublisherWorld Almanac Books
Publication date
November 30, 2021 (1st: 1868)
Media typePrinted Book

The World Almanac and Book of Facts is a US-published reference work, an almanac conveying information about such subjects as world changes, tragedies, and sports feats. It has been published yearly from 1868 to 1875, and again every year since 1886.[1]


19th century[edit]

The first edition of The World Almanac was published by the New York World newspaper in 1868 (the name of the publication comes from the newspaper itself, which was known as the World). Published just three years after the end of the US Civil War and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, its 120 pages of information touched on such events as the process of Reconstruction and the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.

Publication was suspended in 1876, but in 1886, newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, who had purchased the World and quickly transformed it into one of the most influential newspapers in the country, revived The World Almanac with the intention of making it "a compendium of universal knowledge." The World Almanac has been published annually since. From 1890 to 1934, the New York World Building was prominently featured on its cover.[2]

The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1987, besides a tea kettle, TIPA, Dharamsala, India

In 1894, when it claimed more than a half-million "habitual users," The World Almanac changed its name to The World Almanac and Encyclopedia. This was the title it kept until 1923, when it became The World Almanac and Book of Facts, the name it bears today.

20th century[edit]

In 1906, the New York Times, reporting on the publishing of the 20th edition, said that "the almanac has made for itself a secure position, second only to the forty-year-old Whitaker's Almanac of London, with which alone it can be compared."[3]

In 1923, the name changed to its current name, The World Almanac and Book of Facts.[1]

Calvin Coolidge's father read from The World Almanac when he swore his son into office.[1] Since then, photos have shown that Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton have also used The World Almanac as a resource.[1]

In 1931 The New York World merged with the Scripps-owned Telegram to form the New York World-Telegram. The World-Telegram subsequently acquired the assets of The Sun in 1950, and officially became the New York World-Telegram and The Sun. Ownership of the Almanac passed to the Newspaper Enterprise Association (another Scripps-owned business) in 1966, when the World-Telegram merged with the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Journal-American.[4]

During World War II, The World Almanac could boast that it was read by GIs all over the world: between 1944 and 1946, at the request of the U.S. Government, The World Almanac had special print runs of 100,000 to 150,000 copies for distribution to the armed forces.

In late December 1984, the 1985 edition reached first place in the category of paperback Advice, How- To and Miscellaneous books, on the New York Times best-seller list, with more than 1,760,000 copies sold at the time.[5]

The first version of the video game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, published in 1985, included a copy of The World Almanac in the purchase.[6]

Over the decades The World Almanac has been featured in several Hollywood films. Fred MacMurray talks about it with Edward G. Robinson in Double Indemnity; Bette Davis screams about it in All About Eve; Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper flirt about it in Love in the Afternoon; it is featured in Miracle on 34th Street when a trial is held to see if Santa Claus really exists; Rosie Perez continually reads it in the film White Men Can't Jump; and Will Smith checks it for the exact time of sunset so he can set his digital watch in I Am Legend.

The World Almanac For Kids was published annually since 1995 until 2014.

In 1993 Scripps sold The World Almanac to K-III (later Primedia). The World Almanac was sold to Ripplewood Holdings' WRC Media in 1999. Ripplewood bought Reader's Digest and the book was then produced by the World Almanac Education Group, which was owned by The Reader's Digest Association.

21st century[edit]

The World Almanac was sold to Infobase Publishing in 2009. In 2018, The World Almanac published its 150-year anniversary edition.[7] The World Almanac was sold to SkyHorse Publishing in 2020.

As of the 2021 publication of the 2022 edition, The World Almanac is published by World Almanac Books and distributed by Simon & Schuster.[8]

Editing and publishing[edit]

In the mid-1980s, The World Almanac was being put together by a 10-member staff. At that time, 20 percent of the book was rarely updated (for example, the text of the Constitution of the United States), 50 percent was updated at least briefly each year, and 30 percent of the content was completely new each year.[5]

Lists published in The World Almanac include:

  • "Surprising Facts"
  • "Number Ones"
  • "Americans By the Numbers"
  • "Milestone Birthdays"
  • "Notable Quotes"
  • "Offbeat News"
  • "Historical Anniversaries"


  1. ^ a b c d History of The World Almanac retrieved 2007-12-25
  2. ^ "The World Almanac - Bonus Content Online". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  3. ^ "The World Almanac for 1906", New York Times, January 20, 1906
  4. ^ "World Almanac Acquired by NEA". The Evening Standard. NEA. June 3, 1966. p. 5. Retrieved June 30, 2021 – via
  5. ^ a b Edwin McDowell, "World Almanac Fact: It's a No. 1 Best Seller", New York Times, December 27, 1984
  6. ^ David Hendin, "'CARMEN SANDIEGO'; Point of Reference", New York Times, letter to the editor, March 29, 1992
  7. ^ "The History of the World Almanac". WGN Radio - 720 AM. 2017-12-29. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  8. ^ Janssen, Sarah (30 November 2021). The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2022. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781510766532. Retrieved 7 January 2022.

Editions in the public domain[edit]

External links[edit]