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On This Day in History, January 24: Failed Promotion for World Calendar

Elisabeth Achelis, a native of Brooklyn Heights, was born on Jan. 24, 1880. Her father was Fritz Achelis, president of the American Hard Rubber Company.

After attending a lecture by Dr. Melvil Dewey (of decimal system fame) on the necessity of simplifying life, she became a calendar reform advocate, editor and author. With personal funds and donations, she established the World Calendar Association, which she headed.

Achelis created the “World Calendar” with which she proposed to make every year the same, with equal quarters, each year beginning on Sunday, Jan. 1, and each date falling on the same day of the week every year. She was a passionate promoter of her plan, going through every possible channel to create interest in adopting it. The chief disadvantages of the calendar were that each month of the quarter begins on a different day of the week, and that the Year-End Day interferes with regular religious observances, to the antagonism of church leaders.

The World Calendar was considered, but not adopted, in the United Nations in 1954.

Achelis died in New York City on Feb. 11, 1973. During her life she supported many worthwhile charities. In 1975 a memorial grove in Humboldt Redwood State Park in California was named for her. Humboldt adjoins the Rockefeller Forest, which was purchased to save the redwoods by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1931.

Achelis’s writings include “The World Calendar” (1937), “Of Time and the Calendar” (1955), “The Calendar for the Modern Age” (1959) and “Be Not Silent” (1961).

Her book The Calendar for Everybody was printed in 1943 and was reprinted in 1990 after a resurgence of interest in the subject due to computerization.

January 24, 2012 - 9:45am


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