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 August, 2007

Handbuch für Verliebte

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

I’ve just received word that Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage will be published by Lübbe in the summer of 2008. I knew the German rights had been sold but hadn’t heard anything specific until now. I’m very excited!

The title for their edition will be Handbuch für Verliebte, which translates as Manual for Lovers.

Sehr kühl!

UMass Dartmouth Alumni Magazine writeup

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

A feature about me and the collection and site and book appeared in the Spring 2007 edition of the UMass Dartmouth alumni magazine. I did the interview back in January I think. The magazine came out in June, and their Web site recently posted it online.

UMass Dartmouth used to be called Southeastern Massachusetts University, which I ended up at after attending the Swain School of Design for a year after attending Greensboro College in N.C. for two years. Yes, my college life was a bit extended, due to some confusion on my part about that whole “what to do with your life” thing. But I guess I turned out okay.

1941: The Blossoming of Love

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

I’m pretty much an idiot when it comes to dating (why do you think I have all of these books, anyway?), and one thing I’m still pretty awkward about is using the word boyfriend, particularly when introducing him to people. Every time I say it I giggle, for no good reason! It’s horrible, I know! Maybe if I had had a boyfriend in high school I would have gotten over this earlier in life.

I tried to find some advice about this topic but didn’t come up with anything directly. But this entry, from Lillian Eichler’s 1941 edition of New Book of Etiquette, cuts me a little slack, don’t you think? (ok, I know it’s a stretch…)

It is impossible for anyone to give rules and regulations for the conduct of lovers. Modern etiquette is too sensible to standardize their conduct, too sensible to attempt with rules to rob love of its joyous spontaneity, its quaint and beautiful discoveries, its impulsive tendernesses. To make rules and regulations for lovers would be like making paper patterns for flowers. It simply cannot be done.

Monsieur de la Rochefoucauld says of lovers that “All there talk is of themselves.” Not only all their talk but all their thoughts are of themselves. Love is selfish, but it is a selfishness that the world generously forgives. Our one word of suggestion is that the lovers do not think so exclusively of themselves that they neglect those who, at this time, deserve a little thought and attention from them.

Point taken, Ms. Eichler, point taken.

1929: Personal Hygiene

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Wooweee is the D.C. area hot this weekend! Even with the mid-afternoon hours wasted away napping in the central air conditioning (not even the dogs want to go outside), it’s been pretty unbearable. And in the short time I did spend outside, well, I’ll be honest, I’ve been perspiring quite a bit. What’s a girl to do?

Well, this girl of course turned to the books for a little advice on personal hygiene, specifically how to “neutralize body odors.” This was found in volume one of Lovely Ladies.

There are so-called deodorants on the market which neutralize body odors. If you have the idea that they are injurious to you, and that by suppressing excess perspiration in a certain place it will only appear somewhere else, then use one of the powder deoderants which neutralize all body odors without in any way suppressing elimination through the pores.

Deodorants, talcum powder, astringents, mouth washes, the proper treatment of the skin areas that are too active in their functions of eliminating waste will remove all possibilities of unpleasant odors. If the area under your arms, for instance, is overactive in its eliminating functions, you can gradually and harmlessly close the pores and make them smaller and consequently less active with the use of a mild astringent after bathing. You can completely neutralize foot odors and in time quite correct any such abnormal condition by bathing them night and morning in a saturated solution of boracic acid and then dusting the powdered boracic acid into them in the place of talcum powder. Of course, you will not have to do this for longer than a week or two at the most, because after the condition is corrected just using the powdered boracic acid instead of talcum will keep them in a healthy condition.

Just as a warning, I wouldn’t recommend trying these treatments without doing some further research (I guess boracic acid is still used these days, but seems a bit scary to me). But still, I thought that bit about closing your pores entertaining for a hot summer day.