Cover image for The American book of days.
The American book of days.
Christianson, Stephen G.
Personal Author:
Fourth edition / compiled and edited by Stephen G. Christianson.
Publication Information:
New York : H.W. Wilson, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxvi, 945 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 26 cm
General Note:
Rev. ed. of: The American book of days / compiled and edited by Jane M. Hatch. 3rd ed. 1978.

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GT3930 .D7 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
GT3930 .D7 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference
GT3930 .D7 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material

On Order



The American Book of Days features 850 essays marking important anniversaries and the birthdays of history-making Americans throughout the 366 days of the year. All American holidays and pivotal moments are noted as readers can delve into fascinating and often overlooked accounts connected to otherwise familiar facts of American history. Cross-references and an extensive index make information easy to find, while expanded appendices feature historical documents.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

These two revised chronological reference sources serve a similar purpose, but take different approaches. The previous edition of The American Book of Days was published in 1978, so an update was overdue. Arrangement is by month, with each chapter offering an introduction that covers the derivation of the month's name and its significance throughout history. This is followed by a day-by-day survey of important anniversaries, celebrations, and movable feasts. Generally, there are at least two events listed for each day, for a total of more than 1,000 entries. Treatment ranges in length from one-half, for the founding of the Boy Scouts of America, to almost four pages, for the beginning of the Civil War. New events added since the third edition include the explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger, the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, the birthdays of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Gates, the attack on the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas, and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (both of which occurred on April 19). Some entries have been updated. New appendixes contain the texts of documents such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; other appendixes cover the days of the week, the signs of the zodiac, and more. As with previous editions, emphasis is given to "the admission of new states to the Union, the birthdays of all American presidents, and the birthdays of chief justices of the Supreme Court." This is one of those reference sources that has been with us for a long time (it was first published in 1937) and has grown into an idiosyncratic mixture--the 1828 duel between John Randolph and Henry Clay shares a page with the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain; Captain Kidd's hanging is given as much space as John F. Kennedy's assassination. Many of the same events are documented in the revised edition of Gross' This Day in American History, which is also arranged month by month and then day by day. This resource had its beginnings when Gross was a radio news writer and looked for a historical item to include in each day's newscast. The previous edition was published in 1990, and events occurring since 1989 have been added for the revision. The index cites dates instead of page numbers, making it easy to locate specific items on a page. Instead of the extended treatment found in The American Book of Days, entries are just a sentence or two in length. But what Gross lacks in depth he makes up in numbers. For example, while The American Book of Days lists two events for April 1, April Fool's Day and the choosing of the first Speaker of the House, in 1789, Gross lists 36, beginning with the 1742 birth of George Washington's physician Samuel Bard and ending with the 1998 dismissal of the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton. Libraries that have found the previous editions useful will want both these updates. The American Book of Days is more helpful if one needs background information on holidays and observances, while Gross is the better quick "what happened when" source.

Choice Review

The fourth edition of a reference standard, Christianson's updating of The American Book of Days continues a tradition begun by G.W. Douglas (1937) and revised by H.D. Compton (1948) and J.M. Hatch (CH, Jul'79). Essays on events in US history are organized by the day of occurrence for all 366 days of the year. Most days have two or three events, and a handful have five or more. Events include battles, disasters, holidays, treaties, statehood recognition, and birthdays of notable Americans. Essays are well-written, enjoyable to browse, and average about 800 words in length. With each revision, outdated entries are dropped and topics of current interest added. Features include a list of days and events, an excellent index, and appendixes about the calendar, days of the week, the US Constitution, etc. The historical and calendrical material in Days can be found in encyclopedias, almanacs, and on the Internet. Holidays are covered by other reference books, including Holidays and Anniversaries of the World, ed. by Beth A. Baker (3rd ed., 1999), Bernard Trawicky's Anniversaries and Holidays, (5th ed., 1997), and George Schaun and Virginia Schaun's American Holidays and Special Days (2nd rev. ed., 1997), but Days is unique in presenting basic US history and popular culture by day of occurrence. Since the events and birth dates chosen are highly selective, the book might be improved by listing without essays additional birth dates and events important to US history that occurred on the 366 days. Probably most valuable for school, community college, and undergraduate libraries. W. P. Hogan; Eastern Michigan University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
List of Days and Eventsp. ix
A Note on Movable Feastsp. xxvi
Januaryp. 1
Februaryp. 106
Marchp. 173
Aprilp. 246
Mayp. 333
Junep. 410
Julyp. 491
Augustp. 554
Septemberp. 619
Octoberp. 680
Novemberp. 745
Decemberp. 804
Appendix A The Calendarp. 873
Appendix B The Erap. 879
Appendix C The Days of the Weekp. 881
Appendix D Signs of the Zodiacp. 883
Appendix E United States Constitutionp. 887
Appendix F Declaration of Independencep. 901
Appendix G Articles of Confederationp. 905
Appendix H Mayflower Compact of 1620p. 911
Appendix I Important Public Holidays and Eventsp. 913
Indexp. 915