What is an almanac?  A smallish book packed with useful local information offering something for everyone, whether you are a social historian, family historian or someone who is simply curious.  The origin of the almanac in Jersey starts in 1785, a year after the advent of printing in Jersey at the press of Matthieu Alexandre at St Aubin. The almanac, a spin-off, became a publication in its own right. The monthly Magazin de l’Île de Jersey was followed by L’Almanac historique, utile et curieux. This little book is peppered with diverse facts :- astrological information and predictions, lists of who’s who in the parish police (unpaid) and a general chronology from 1066.  In England, Old Moore’s Almanac was first published in England in 1697, and was known for its astrological predictions and is still on sale in newsagents today.

During the mid 19th century there were as many as eight newspapers published in Jersey, and although not all produced almanacs there are quite a number which did, and a selection can be viewed in our library.  There are some interesting variations as to the type of information included by publisher, and also by year.   They were written in either English or French appealing to both audiences living in Jersey at the time.  Some also contain a Strangers Guide welcoming the new resident and offering advice on where to stay, visit, local laws and customs,   and information about places of worship and prices of goods.  This was particularly important as the number of incomers increased in the mid-19th century.

Almanacs also encapsulate local and social history, through offering information on local residents and their addresses, and later serving as an early telephone directory.  People in different trades could be found through advertisements. Military and civil information, shipping ownership and news could also be found, and from the mid-nineteenth century a brief summary of local events was included.  Recently published almanacs no longer contain the personal information found in older ones, as the data protection laws safeguard the privacy of individuals. 

Latest Selections

St Valentine's Day

The tradition of sending often anonymous cards for St Valentine's Day became popular in Victorian times, and the Lord Coutanche Library holds around 20 cards in the collection.

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International Archives Day 2016

To celebrate International Archives Day 2016, we have selected an item from the German Occupation collection which illustrates the theme of the event  “Archives, Harmony and Friendship”. 1940 -1945 in Jersey was a time of suffering and hardship, but also a period where courage and friendship were demonstrated, and thanks for good deeds were documented.  Peter Bokatenko, a young man from Ukraine who was dragged across Europe to Jersey by his German captors, and having escaped from the German authorities as a prisoner of war, found safety and help from a number of Jersey families.  He survived thanks to their kindness, particularly that of the local artist Edmund Blampied, who counterfeited seals on an identity card for him,  On his return to Russia, Bokatenko sent some very touching messages of thanks to the people who helped him.


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Experiments in telepathy

These unusual drawings were the result of an experiment in telepathy. The notebook from which they came was owned by Joseph Sinel (1844 – 1929). The subject of the experiments was Elfleda, the only child of his friend Samuel Dancaster. She was around 11 years of age at the time. Sinel drew a picture, and Elfleda drew what she thought he was thinking. The two pictures were often remarkably similar. As a scientist Sinel concluded that this was not supernatural but was an ability that humans had lost in the process of evolution.

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Cider making

The tradition of cider making in Jersey has a very long history, and apart from being a popular local beverage in the 16th century, it was also, by the mid-19th century one of the island’s major exports and part of Jersey’s rich agricultural heritage.

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