I was in junior high when I first discovered the Texas Almanac in my school library. It was a stamped and stickered “reference” book, which meant we students were not allowed to check it out, but I went to it when I had time to burn off.
If I could afford it, I would give a personal copy of the Texas Almanac to every seventh grader in the state of Texas. Why seventh graders? That is the year all Texas school children study Texas history for one semester, and Texas geography for another semester. I loved Texas history, but was less excited about geography— because Texas, all joking aside, is divided into a gazillion zones based on topography, geology, climate, and so on.
What I studied as a seventh grader wasn’t quite this complicated, but I had a teacher who was determined that his students would know and understand the High Plains, the Rolling Plains, the Cross Plains, the Rio Grande Plains … you get the idea. To this day, I still call that western hunk of the state the Trans-Pecos. I am sure what the students learn now is even better, and I want to clarify that I have become a devoted student of Texas geography, because everything about who and what we are begins with our geography.
But Texas history was so colorful and exciting that it was never boring, and the Texas Almanac combined the two and brought Texas up-to-date! History for the here and now, fresh and and dynamic. First published by The Galveston News in January 1857, the Texas Almanac has been published biennially by The Dallas Morning News for the past 64 years. A copy of the Texas Almanac probably sits on the bookshelf of every business person and newspaper editor in the state. Surely it is in every school library in the state (and probably still marked “reference,” which is a huge mistake. Buy more than one, and please let the kids check it out!) Authoritatively described as
the ultimate source of reliable information about the Lone Star State. It is a comprehensive volume of more than 700 pages covering many aspects of Texas, such as history; the natural environment; parks, recreation and sports; Texas’ 254 counties; politics, elections and government; economics, business and transportation; civic and religious holidays; oil and minerals; population and demographics; agriculture; science and health; education; a detailed astronomical calendar; ethnic heritage; and culture and the arts.
Last month The Dallas Morning News gave the Texas Almanac to the Texas State Historical Society. I mean lock, stock, and barrel. The Texas State Historical Society is an online resource that I use almost every day, and now two of my favorite things will be together.
Buy a copy of the Texas Almanac for your home, ok? Especially if you have kids. They’ll be smarter kids very soon, because they will devour this book, and delight in quizzing you!