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 May, 2007

1953: On Catching a Wealthy Sponsor

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

I know I said a few months back that Miss Abigail was livin’ the single life, but things have changed due to a night with the gals drinking a few margaritas and crafting and posting our profiles on an online dating site. Well, lo and behold, I snatched me a man a month later! So far things are great – Denis doesn’t mind my crazy dogs or my book obsession (heck, he once owned a copy of Live Alone and Like It). Kindrid spirits, I tell you. I thought it would be fitting for his “coming out on the Abiblog” to talk about an upcoming gig of the band he’s in — Boister does original scores for Buster Keaton films, among other things. Their next performance, set for this Sunday at 2pm at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Maryland, is actually quite relevant for readers of this blog. Filmed in 1925, Seven Chances is all about a man who, if he can find a bride and marry her in time, will inherit millions. I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently there’s a great chase scene, with tons of young, hopeful brides running down the streets of L.A. hoping to catch him.

In keeping with the storyline of the movie, the new squeeze and I did a little research and came up with this quote, from a chapter in The Unfair Sex called “On Catching a Weathly Sponsor.” I bet this would have come in handy for the brides in this movie. Too bad it was written in 1953!

It is far more difficult to acquire a Sponsor than to catch a husband. To begin with, only three per cent of the male population is wealthy enough to qualify. Just think how many women are trying for each member of that select group. After you eliminate the unattractive women, the inexperienced, and the inadequate, the competition is still too much for any but the most gifted.

Even girls who are both talented and diligent frequently fail. For Luck plays an important role. So much depends on getting the breaks, on having the right contacts, on the accident of proper timing.

True, on rare occasions a novice who has none of the qualifications for success (and often no ambition) will by some quirk of chance be precipitated into a brilliant alliance with a rich man. Reports of this kind of accidental success give many naive girls a false perspective on the Weathly Sponsor situation, and they promptly fling themselves into the contest with great expectations and childish fancies. I sincerely hope you willl not be one of those who rush in where angels fear to tread.

Book Inscription Project

Monday, May 21st, 2007

I love this. I have some good ones in my collection, most memorably those from the first book in the Miss Abigail collection.

1919: Cheerfulness

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Since today is mother’s day, I thought I’d bring you a little something from the parenting side of advice books. The following is from one called The Mother’s Book. My own mom has raised me with a cheerful outlook on life, I think, so this one seemed fitting as a way to honor her and all she’s done for me.

Cheerfulness has been delightfully called “the bright weather of the heart.” Let the mother smile down upon the babe that gazes tearfully up into her eyes, and often out of a peevish humor a happy spirit is at once evoked, for an infant is most sensitive to look and tone. Let her meet its childish woes and hurts with an encouraging word, and very early it will begin to take a cheerful view of life; and how easily it attaches itself to anyone with a bright face and a merry heart! We are generous in the education of our children, but do we not sometimes neglect the very important art of cheerfulness? Draw the child’s attention to the beauty of a rainy day, and to the different blessings associated with merry spring, glowing summer, gorgeous autumn, and brisk winter. Teach them to look more often up into the sky with its wonderful cloud effects; for the cheerful ones are always those who look out and up. It is easier now than in the olden days to teach the young lessons of cheer; for more and more their social betterment is made a subject of study. It was not until late in the nineteenth century, for example, that children were taught to sing, and does not the music thus brought into their lives impart genuine pleasure?

Some mothers who read these words will sigh and say that withal life is a chapter of many and varied experiences, and that it is hard always to be bright. Well, there are clouds it is true, but there is a rift somewhere; the best way is to walk hand in hand with the children right up to manhood and womanhood, trying to carry the cheer together, and cheerfulness has an abiding element that overcomes many obstacles.

On that note, Happy Mother’s Day all you mothers out there, particularly my own!