The typical annual is about 5 by 8 inches in size and contains about 300 gilt-edged pages. It typically contains 24 to 40 items with 2 to 3 poems per prose selection, and 8 to 14 engraved illustrations.  Most of the annuals contain biographical sketches, descriptive travelogues, moral essays, short stories, and poems.  The literary annuals were intentionally directed to an aspiring middle class market.  Annuals were designed to appeal to consumer eyes and hearts rather than to their minds; annuals were handsome and costly; annuals were "artistic" and "refined."  American gift book literature was on the whole highly moral and polite.  The strength of American sectarianism probably accounts for gift book sobriety (Thompson 25).  Clergymen frequently contributed to annuals and several annuals were edited by them.

        Before the annuals, stories had appeared in installments in the newspapers and were later collected and published.  However, the advent of the annuals superseded the newspapers and magazines as the major market for the short story.  Literary magazines of that time also led a precarious existence, and the financially successful annuals were able to pay higher prices for verses or a short story by a popular author.  Annuals depended upon the names of one or two distinguished contributors to sell a volume composed of largely cheaper material; but men like Poe, Irving, Bryant, Whittier, Emerson, Longfellow, Lowell, and Holmes were not ashamed to contribute to annuals (Trent 173).  The objective of this study is to determine who were the other predominant though less distinguished authors published in the annuals.

Method of Analysis
        Thompson cites a total of 855 American annuals; of these only 469 contained original material; the remainder were later editions or reissues of the originals (Thompson 102).  The original contents of the 469 American literary annuals have been microfilmed and indexed by Kirkham and Fink.  The author index of this compilation was used to determine the predominant contributors to the annuals.  It was found that there were 4,674 authors listed that made 13,936 total annual contributions in the author index.  Because there were many authors with only a few contributions to the annuals, an initial screening was made by computer listing only those authors with five or more contributions.  This list resulted in 507 authors whose 7,496 compositions constitute a little more than half (54 percent) of all contributions.  A second screening was made to reduce the list to about 100 authors by sorting the number of their contributions from the most to the least.  This list resulted in 103 authors whose 3,927 compositions constitute a little more than a quarter  (28 percent) of all contributions.  This final list of the predominant authors is shown in
Table 1. Additional information has been included in Table 1 to further characterize the top authors in the American annuals.  The biographical methodology and information generated by Lawrence Buell in his "Vital Statistics: A Quantitative Analysis of Authorship as a Profession in New England" was used to provide an "origin" where the author was predominantly located, as well as the author's "gender" and "occupation." Some of the authors were also editors of the annuals, and there is a column in Table 1 that indicates the number of different annuals they edited.  The two remaining columns in this table show the cumulative contributions of the authors as the less published authors are added to the list, and the percentage that they comprise of the total of the annual contributions published.  Table 2 shows the number of contributions in each year that each author listed made to the annuals.  The years that authors were editors are indicated by underlining.  Thus, these two tables allow one to determine not only who, but where, and how frequently the top authors published items in the annuals.