Almanacs predate the Western Australian government Year Books and Post Office Directories, and served a similar purpose in detailing the activities of the colony of Western Australia.
We have recently completed the digitising of a series of almanacs 1849 – 1889. These were produced by several different, and sometimes competing, publishers (Stirling and Sons, Arthur Shenton, and James Pearce) so there may be more than one publication for a particular year.
Most early almanacs include a list of prominent office-holders and their positions in the establishment. A more general directory appears during the 1860s.
Some editions include a potted history of the colony by date – see the Western Australian Almanack of 1856 by Stirling and Sons. Stirling and Sons’ almanacs may also include a brief chronicle of occurrences and events for the year.
As well as interesting statistics on the demography and productivity of the colony, calendars, and schedules of government fees, the almanacs contain advertisements for many local businesses including merchants, banks, jewellers, undertakers, insurance agents, hoteliers, teachers, retailers, accountants and tradesmen.
Browsing the almanacs can afford interesting highlights such as a short paragraph of useful hints to keep your servants – “Piece work is the cheapest to the master and the best to the men”. [Oh, really?] Or the Table of Distances for Western Australia compiled by Alfred Hillman in 1854 [1856 almanac].
If you have an interest in Western Australian social or family history these publications provide a wealth of background information as well as mentioning many residents and businesses of the time.
To find the almanacs through our catalogue search using the terms ALMANACK and HERITAGE ONLINE (note spelling of almanac with a “k”)
Visit the Biographies and Directories section of our Heritage Online pages.