Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Archive for December, 2006

1924: The New Year’s Resolution

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

I hope you had a happy holiday. I’ve survived Christmas week, with a whirlwind trip to Buffalo, Baltimore, Mineral and then Gainesville, Virginia, to visit family… though it was good to see everyone I’m happy to be back home after all that roadtripping.

I thought I would bring in the New Year with a quote from advice maven Lillian Eichler. She wrote The Customs of Mankind in 1924. It was in this book that I found a little something about the tradition many of us repeat each year, that of the New Year’s resolution.


The New Year’s resolution undoubtedly had its origin in the notion that the coming year represented an entirely new period of life to the individual, with which he might do as he pleased. What was already passed he put out of his mind, for it was something over which he had no control. But on the coming year he concentrated in earnestness. It spread out like a golden vista before him. It was a period of promise. And he probably found himself making solemn avowals concerning what he would do with his next year of life.

In ancient England it was the custom to clean out the chimneys on New Year’s Day so that luck could descend and, of course, remain all year. With us it is customary to speak of “cleaning the slate” (of life) and making good resolutions so that the “slate” will remain clean throughout the year.

The making of New Year’s resolutions became quickly a common practice. We can understand why a custom such as this would appeal to the popular fancy and remain throughout the generations. To a mass mind, no period of the year could be more timely for a change in one’s mode of living than that period which represents the beginning of the year. A new year–a new life.


Happy 2007!

Miss Abigail’s Holiday Gift Ideas!

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Struggling to find a last-minute gift for that hard-to-buy-for relative or friend? Well search no longer. I’ve resurrected Miss Abigail’s Gift Ideas to help you with your shopping this year. The selection features books from my collection. Hopefully you can find them at your local Borders! (ha)

Ready to get started? Click here: Miss Abigail’s Gift Ideas Volume VII

Earlier editions can be found on the Celebrating Good Times page.

Happy Holidays!

Planning Ahead: Valentine’s Day Reading at LC

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Friends in the Library of Congress Science, Technology and Business Division have invited me to come talk about my book, and read some quotes on the topic of love, on Valentine’s Day (February 14 for those of you not in the know – a Wednesday this year). I’ll be in Dining Room A at 11:30. The event is open to the public, and word is that there will be “love foods,” so even if you are ambivalent about V-day, come by and enjoy some treats and have some fun with the classic advice books.

More at the Library’s public affairs site and on the events page of the Science, Technology and Business Division Web site (the location might say something else right now, but I’ll definitely be in Dining Room A). There’s a map here: http://www.loc.gov/loc/maps/images/6-madson.jpg.

Why the Science, Technology, and Business division, you ask? Remember this Webcast I posted about before? Kindred spirits, I tell ya.

Miss Abigail: Playboy Satellite Bunny?

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

I was contacted yesterday by Playboy Radio (Sirius Satellite Channel 198) about appearing on their “Afternoon Advice” show, described as “an advice show like no other that could only come to you from the minds of Playboy. The show is hosted by Tiffany Granath and she’s joined by a rotating panel of experts, authors and celebrities who give their takes on sex and sexuality and takes your calls and may just take them in a direction you never even considered. This show can do everything from interpret your sex dreams, to read your star charts. Our guests can be anywhere from a doctor to a witch to a witchdoctor, all in an attempt to give you another view of your own sexuality.”

While I’m not a witchdoctor, at this point I suppose I fall into the expert/author category when it comes to classic advice topics, so I agreed to appear on the show.

Looks like I’ll be live on Friday, January 12, 2007, at 1pm PST/4pm EST, talking about the book, the site, sharing some of the ~ ahem ~ sexier bits of advice that have been left off this site (hey, this is a family Web site here!), and talking to callers. I’ve got plenty of books about sex that haven’t been quoted from yet… looking forward to doing the research for this one.

I’ll post a reminder and the call-in number closer to the date. Wish me luck!

1924: Road Courtesy

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

I must be having a mid-life crisis. I became obsessed with a car (yes, a car) and just had to have it. So, traded in my trusty 2001 VW Golf (a moment of silence please) and negotiated a pretty good deal on a silver Madza3 hatchback. So now that I’m out on the road with it, traversing the streets of suburban and urban D.C., I ask my fellow driver to mind your manners while on the road. The following excerpt is from the 1924 booklet Etiquette in Public, written by early twentieth-century etiquette goddess Lillian Eichler.

If courtesy on the road were made traditional, if good nature and good-will were expected of every motorist, is it assuming too much to imagine a time when rudeness on the road will be as rare as it now is in social contact? Certainly when motorists expect courtesy of one another, as guests do in a drawing room, it will be forthcoming.

And after all, by its very nature, conduct on the highway is immeasurably more important than the surface conventions of the drawing room; for here we find that not only are courtesy and kindliness of spirit involved, but life itself. If a man is interested in conversation, witty, agreeable — we can find it in our hearts to forget that he never rises when a lady enters a room. But if a motorist misses our heel by a fraction of an inch, we cannot forgive him, no matter how agreeable a chap he may be otherwise.

So do you think Ms. Eichler would be pleased with our tailgating, speed-loving, cell-phone talking society today? She probably would have expected more by now, with so many years of driving under our belts since she wrote this.