It is not, to most of you, news that before there was Wikipedia, the way we all looked stuff up was to consult the printed page. Nowadays, it’s rare to see an encyclopedia, and I imagine that college students today don’t have to write term papers by camping out in a library carrel with stacks of books and piles of index cards with pertinent notes scribbled thereupon, but we managed. And the old way had its own peculiar joys.
Take almanacs. Sure, you can randomly roam Wikipedia and the net and find stuff just by exploring, but for sheer randomness and “did you know” happenstance, almanacs are still a unique experience. Back when I was amassing my store of useless trivial knowledge (fact: we did at least one “Ask Perry” random call-in trivia challenge segment on Chris Hardwick’s radio show a long time ago), almanacs were among my go-to sources. The Information Please Almanac, the Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac (still have one from 1959, and, no, that predates me), all the almanacs. But the premier almanac was always the World Almanac and Book of Facts. That one was the ultimate arbiter, the factbook …read more