The Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack was established in 1797, making it the second oldest almanac in the United States. It began in a modest print shop on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown, Maryland and was the creation of colonial printer John Gruber and his partner and son-in-law Daniel May. Gruber is considered by many to be one of Hagerstown's "favorite sons" right along with Jonathan Hager, the town's founder and namesake. His almanac has been published continuously for 219 years and is the ONLY almanac that is still published today by direct descendants of its founder.
The Almanack, as it soon became known, grew in popularity, quickly becoming an integral part of everyday Early American life. For many years hence, it was THE primary source for agricultural, meteorological and astronomical information vital to an agrarian community's survival. The highly accurate weather forecasts (made over 14 months in advance) were first derived using centuries-old methods but over the years, the method has been advanced, incorporating newer, more reliable techniques. And it still contains favorite folk remedies, useful hints and tips for everyday living, and other forms of traditional community wisdoms. Millions of copies have been sold and it has been said that the The Almanack has made Hagerstown widely-known throughout the U.S. and has given Maryland an ‘epicenter’ of farming and agricultural life.
Throughout its long history, it has been recognized countless times for its contributions to the steady development of colonial agrarian society. Early in 2012, The Maryland State Arts Council's Maryland Traditions Program recognized The Almanack as one of the state's most enduring traditions with their Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts (ALTA) Award. For more information about the Maryland Traditions Program and their prestigious ALTA Award, go to http://www.msac.org/press-release/alta-awards-honor-pillars-maryland-heritage?nid=652.
The Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack was most recently recognized by Wikipedia as the 39th oldest company in the United States.
Planning is currently under way for an historic ceremony to be held in in Hagerstown in late 2014 to honor both John Gruber and The Maryland Theater for their combined contributions to over "200 Years of Art and Culture" in the state. The ceremony will include a performance by the Maryland Symphony, the placement of an commemorative plaque at the original site of Gruber's first print shop on Potomac Street (where coincidentally, the Maryland State Theater is located today!), and a 'flag talk', living history interpreters, and demonstrations of colonial activities such as stitching and weaving provided by the Maryland State Historical Society.