Who is Miss Abigail?

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

Find me on…

Get the feed

About

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!

Archives

Advice Archive

1891: Learning Something from All

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

I strive to live by this advice from Richard Wells each day ~ even though it seems harder and harder sometimes to do so! We must all try, as much as we can.

Wearing the Mask of Pretense, 1941

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Here’s a good quote regarding “wearing the mask of pretense” from Lillian Eichler’s 1941 The New Book of Etiquette. I thought it might come in handy right now!

Coming out of the Woodwork: Should We Follow the Leader?

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

I’ve decided to come out of semi-retirement, which is otherwise known as “I’ve been too lazy to update my website and social media channels” (at least for the time being) because the state of our dear United States of America has been so distressing to me. If you spend any time on Twitter, which I unfortunately do too much of, or reading the news, everyone seems to have not only lost their minds, but lost their manners. Civility has gone the wayside as people scream at each other to get their point across, no matter how that makes our neighbors and friends and fellow humans, no matter their political persuasions.

The only way I could think about fighting off some of the negativity around me was to turn to my classic advice books for inspiration to get us through these difficult times. While the advice is from a “simpler time,” these words can also still have relevance. And since no one wants to read much anymore (are any of you even still with me?), I’ve abandoned my usual style to quote a long passage here in a blog post to find shorter snippets that are more easily shareable on ye olde social media. Cause ya know, all the kids are doing it.

Here’s the first:

MissAbigail_Loeb_Leader_1964v2

So look for these in the future, and I swear, all of the quotes are ACTUALLY TRUE and come from my vast collection of classic advice books. I may edit them down slightly to make them more succinct, but will use ellipses when I do so so it is clear. If you would like to see the full quote contact me, or dig up the original book for some additional fun!

Book Inventory Row 4: Caring for Your Hair and Eyes (and other parts)

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

This entry in the “what’s on my bookshelf” includes more health and fitness books, including some related to caring for your hair and eyes, a few Red Cross guidebooks, and a Christian fitness book. And for some reason the Sears Discovery Charm school binder sits on this shelf. I think it belongs elsewhere, but I went with it and included it here. Enjoy!

Sears Charm School Binder Available!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

A message to all of the Sears Charm School attendees desperate to find a copy of the binder: Anne wrote to say that her school is doing a fundraiser for their library and auctioning off a Sears Charm School binder on eBay. “This was donated by one of our patrons, and the money raised from selling this book will help keep our library open, so you’re benefiting a charity too.” I asked what year it was, and this is what she had to say: “The back of the book says Copyright 1965, but I can’t be sure if that’s the year it came out.”

I know many of you are interested in this. Let’s raise some money for the library!

Book Inventory Row Three: This Time, Horizontal!

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

A skinny third row down on my first bookcase demands that I stack them horizontally. The books this week are mostly health and some sex-related titles, including a book on stammering, one printed in Norwegian (from our last-summer adventures to BookTown), and a possibly self-published book from 1947, printed in Baltimore and signed by the author, on spine health (which is helpful to me as I combat a bulging disc and associated pain). Check out the Flickr gallery below for the images.

Book Inventory: Shelf 1, Row 2, in which I discover I file badly

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

I’m only on shelf one, row two, and I realize that I have sex books for kids mixed in with physical education textbooks, and other health books. Woops. I guess I should reorganize as I go, but eh, that’s not within scope of the project. 🙂

I also (re)discovered that I have a book from 1782 in the collection, which might be my earliest: Buchan’s Domestic Medicine

Check out the gallery here:

2015 Inventory of Collections: Shelf 1, Row 1: Health

Sunday, March 8th, 2015


Over the years I’ve done a so-so job of tracking which books are in my collection, from a long-ago database on my old Mac, to my website bibliography, and an ultimate move to Librarything.com which has been great and so much easier, but I’ve never managed to get all of my titles loaded.

So for 2015, I’m starting a new book inventory project, and hope to get everything documented so others can see the full extent of the collection and enjoy the covers, some of which are pretty fabulous. The goals and what I’m up to:

1) Ensuring all of my books are listed in my online database over at Library Thing
2) Photographing the bookshelves and book covers (unless the cover is completely blank–for instance hardcovers that have no jacket–in which case I’ll skip those, but you can see the spines in the shelf photos)
3) Uploading the covers to my Flickr account (and hopefully I can get them loaded into LibraryThing as well, though I’m having difficulty at the moment doing that)

I don’t have any interns helping, unfortunately, so this may take me awhile, unless Lulu the dog can help do some data entry… but check back here for updates as I add more shelves and sections this year.

To start off, I’ve finished the first row of my first bookshelf, which you can see in this Flickr album. Things are loosly grouped on the shelves into topics (no LCSH or Dewey Decimal organization here, sorry!), and this first group is from the HEALTH section.

Enjoy!

Sears Discovery Course: Chapter on Manners (1972)

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

There’s been renewed interest lately from readers of this site in the Sears Discovery Charm School courses that were available in the 1960s and 1970s; I’ve written about this before on the site, which is likely leading searchers to find their way to Miss Abigail.

A fan and attendee of the course recently wrote to say she was a graduate of the Sears Discovery Charm School during the early 70s in Racine, WI:  “I was wondering if you could provide the information from the 3 ring binder regarding manners. I really wish I could locate my binder, but so very appreciative that the information is still available!”

So I dug up my binder (from 1972), and scanned in the chapter for it and sent along. Given the number of emails I get on the topic, I thought others would like to see it to – so here you go! Pop on over to my Flickr account to see the whole chapter, or flip thru the images below. Enjoy!

 

Antique Vibrator Collection

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Arctic Vibrator, No. 731

Miss Abigail has a little thing, I guess you could say, about antique vibrators. Don’t get any wild ideas ~ it’s nothing dirty (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) ~  I just love the packaging on those old boxes, trying so carefully to talk about the health benefits of use and the calming effect their products would have on the women who used them, without really mentioning <ahem> the probable use of them.

An example: The directions for the The Arctic Vibrator, which was produced by Sears, Robuck and Company (hey look, they still sell massagers!), state that “Massage is a form of curative treatment which has been known for years, but it is only recently that scientific research has enabled us to put it into practice in a way to obtain quicker and better results. The old fashioned hand massage has been supplanted by the rapid and uniform massage of the electric vibrator.” The instructions go on to suggest the Arctic be used to combat wrinkles and your double chin, for hair and scalp, and after shaving. A perfect product for the home! The closest thing we get to racy is this, about using it for bust development:

Vibratory massage should appeal to women with flat unattractive busts. Apply applicator directly on the bust and massage gently in a circular movement from three to five minutes every day. Do not expect immediate results.

I’ve been meaning to do this for some time, but finally got around to snapping admittedly not-so-great photos of my modest collection. I threw in a few health belts that I also had sitting around, for your viewing pleasure. They’ve got to get packed away for a bit ~ we’re about to put our house on the market and I imagine they might scare potential buyers away!

Arctic Vibrator For more about antique vibrators, visit the Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum. They have a great history section and much better photos than mine!