World Almanac

The World Almanac and Book of Facts is a US-published reference work and is a bestselling[1] almanac conveying information about such subjects as world changes, tragedies, and sports feats.

World Almanac
CountryUnited States
PublisherWorld Almanac Books
Publication date
November 26, 2019 (1st: 1868)
Media typePrinted Book

It has been published yearly from 1868 to 1875, and again every year since 1886.[1] It was number 1 on the Washington Post bestseller list on November 27, 2011. The 2020 edition (ISBN 978-1600572302) has 1,008 pages.


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.

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.

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."[2]

From 1890 to 1934, the New York World Building was prominently featured on its cover.[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]

The New York World merged with the Scripps-owned Telegram to form the New York World-Telegram in 1931. The Almanac survived the closure of the World-Telegram in 1966.

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.[4]

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.[5]

Over the years The World Almanac has been featured in a number of 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, when the 2015 edition was released.

The World Almanac for Kids
The 2015 edition of the book
CountryUnited States
PublisherWorld Almanac Books
Publication date
December 2, 2014 (1st ed.: 1995)
Preceded byThe World Almanac for Kids 2016 
Followed byThe World Almanac for Kids 2018 

In 1993 Scripps sold the 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. The World Almanac was sold to Infobase Publishing in 2009.

Lists published in the almanac include:

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

Editing and publishing

In the mid-1980s, the 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.[4]


As a publication of Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) the World Almanac would publish the NEA NFL All-Pro teams, which were also released to the media. The NEA All-Pro teams were considered the "player's" All-Pro team since creator Murray Olderman, a NEA sports editor, would poll NFL players for the All-Pro team. The NEA All-Pro team ran from 1955 through 1992.


  1. History of The World Almanac retrieved 2007-12-25
  2. "The World Almanac for 1906", New York Times, January 20, 1906
  3. "The World Almanac - Bonus Content Online". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  4. Edwin McDowell, "World Almanac Fact: It's a No. 1 Best Seller", New York Times, December 27, 1984
  5. David Hendin, "'CARMEN SANDIEGO'; Point of Reference", New York Times, letter to the editor, March 29, 1992

Editions in the public domain

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