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 January, 2008

Newest Old Books

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

I’ve got a few new additions to the collection this month, thanks to the Library of Congress used booksale (oh, don’t worry, they’re not selling off the collections, staff donate books and the sales go to charities), and a visit to the DC Big Flea at Dulles Expo Center (lots of browsing yielded only two pamphlets and a tablecloth — most things were too expensive for my taste!

The Big Flea yielded two books on play and exercise:
*The Modern Drill and Exercise Book
*Play Safe with the Games We Love

I got some great things at the LC sale, including, dig this — the far-out Sex, Sex, Sex, which is from 1969, written by Christian husband and wife team Marcena and Trevor Wyatt Moore, who according to the back of the book, had been “practicing matrimony” for 25 years before writing this masterpiece. They “acquired, mysteriously enough, a clutch of nine children…” One rave review of the book from Father Robert F. Capon, author of Bed and Board, states: “Delightful. Whimsical. Hip. But solid. Square with round corners.” That pretty much sums it up. Typography and graphics are used to engage the reader into thinking the book is hipper than it is. I was going to scan some pages in, but I’ve just discovered that my Adobe Photoshop Elements isn’t working with the latest Mac OS (at least on my machine), so I need to figure that out before I can get some images posted for you. Sorry!

In the meantime, you can peruse all of the new books here.

Sears Discovery Charm School – ring any bells?

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Kelly, a fan of this site, wrote recently with a question about a book from her childhood that she’s been desperately looking for –The Sears Make the Most of You Discovery Book (described a bit but without working links here. It was from a charm school that Sears ran back in the early 1970s; Kelly was a proud graduate. I sent her off to the Sears archivists but they had apparently never heard of the class or the book.

So I ask you – did anyone else out there take this class or remember this book? I’m thinking it was maybe a regional thing, but if Sears published the book… well, who knows. Post a comment if you’ve got any information about this class!

Miss Abigail

1929: Beautiful Breasts

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

This being the first day of 2008 (hard to believe) I thought I would find something to help you with your latest new year’s resolutions. I’m sure most of you have resolved to spend more time with family and friends, excercise more, eat better, to earn more money and perhaps travel to exotic locales this coming year. But I wonder, are there any women out there resolving to take better care of a part of our bodies that we often take for granted — the breasts? The author of Lovely Ladies hopes that you will. After reading this, I think I’ll try to do better by them this year.

No woman can have truly womanly beauty without beautiful breasts. If illness or childbirth causes them to droop, don’t allow this condition to continue for a single month. And allow no perverted current ideas to cause you to bind or strap them into a semblance of boyish flatness, and thus break down their muscles and delicate tissues.

First, the underdeveloped breasts. Simply massage them in a rotating movement five minutes night and morning, with lanolin or cocoa butter, all that they will absorb. Dust with talcum. Always mix a few drops of tincture of benzoin with lanolin or cocoa butter for whitening.

Next, breasts that sag because of illness. Watch this particularly after operations, after childbirth, and after nursing a child. They must have a massage with diluted alcohol, then a good brisk slapping with a folded towel wrung out in cold water, then the upward and rotating massage with the lanolin or cocoa butter, unless they are already very large. Never under any circumstances attempt to reduce your breasts with epsom salts or reducing creams or bandages, or rubbing contraptions which are beneficial to other parts of the body.

Continue these ministrations until your breasts are beautiful, and return to the measures if your breasts tend ever to lose that beauty.

Important Disclaimer: This is originally from the 1920s, so this advice may therefore be a bit unsound. You might want to confer with your doctor before rubbing something like “tincture of benzoin” (whatever that is) or any other product that sounds funny and is probably not readily found in your local drugstore onto your chest. And hey — don’t blame Miss Abigial if your breasts burst into flame with the use of epsom salts or reducing creams. This is meant for entertainment purposes only!