Author: Van Orden, Dell
Early Mormon almanacs (1845-1866) first borrowed heavily from standard almanacs being published, but then came to focus on interests of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since 1973 the Church Almanac has printed only information pertaining to the Church.
Orson Pratt, an apostle, published the first Mormon almanacs in New York City in 1845 and 1846. Basing his Prophetic Almanac for 1845 on standard American almanacs, Elder Pratt added a few articles about doctrines of the Church. Then his 1846 issue broke from the standard mold and became a distinctively Mormon almanac.
Between 1851 and 1866, William Wine Phelps published fourteen known issues of Deseret Almanac (from 1859-1864 entitled Almanac ) in Salt Lake City. Also borrowing from standard almanacs, he added religious and cultural articles and some notes pertaining to frontier-society needs.
The current Deseret News Church Almanac is prepared and edited by the staff of the church news, in cooperation with the Historical Department of the Church. It was published annually from 1974 to 1983, but biennially thereafter. Presently it is a 352-page, soft-bound, ready-reference of facts and statistics of the Church. It is intended for use in libraries, schools, and other institutions, as well as private homes. The Almanac prints thousands of historical and contemporary items about the Church, such as brief biographical sketches of all past and present General Authorities; a year-by-year historical chronology of the Church since the 1820s; a month-by-month chronology of major events in the Church during the past two years; and past and current information about stakes, missions, areas, and temples throughout the world, including histories, populations, and numbers of Church units.
Liberal use is made of photographs. In addition to photos of current events, users see photographs of all current and past General Authorities for whom there are pictures available, including an 1853 daguerreotype of the Prophet Joseph Smith's uncle, John Smith, who was an assistant counselor in the First Presidency and later the patriarch to the church.
Each biennial issue of the Almanac is updated and revised. Copies may be purchased at Church distribution centers or ordered by mail from the Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.