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Analyzing the astrological, therapeutic, and regimen advice offered in American almanacs over two centuries, and comparing it with similar advice offered in other genres of popular print of the period, Horrocks effectively demonstrates that the almanac was a leading source of health information in America prior to the Civil War. He contends that the almanac was an integral component of a complicated, fragmented, semi-vernacular health literature of the period, and that the genre played a leading role in disseminating astrological health advice as well as shaping contemporary and future perceptions of astrology.
In terms of therapeutic and regimen advice, Horrocks asserts that the almanac performed a complementary role, confirming and reinforcing traditional beliefs and practices. By analyzing the almanac as a cultural artifact that represents a time, a place, and a certain set of assumptions and beliefs, he demonstrates that the genre can provide a lens through which scholars may examine early American attitudes and practices concerning their health in particular and American popular culture ingeneral.
About the Author:
Thomas A. Horrocks is associate librarian for collections at Houghton Library, Harvard University
List of Illustrations
Introduction Almanacs and the Literature of Popular Health in Early America 1
1 Heavenly Guidance 17
2 Advice for the Afflicted 42
3 Prescribing Prevention 67
4 Health Advice with an Agenda 90