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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!

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Sears Discovery Charm School – ring any bells?

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!

Thanks,
Miss Abigail

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38 Responses to “Sears Discovery Charm School – ring any bells?”

  1. Is she sure that it was Sears? I took a charm class at Dillards in the late 80s or early 90s.

  2. Miss Abigail says:

    Definitely Sears, but sounds like they weren’t the only ones teaching charm to young women… !

  3. Anonymous says:

    I took the Sears Charm School, but it must have been in the late 60′s. I was born in 1956 and remember doing the charm thing when I was about 10.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I attended the Sears Discovery (Charm) School in the 70′s as well. It was at Sears in Citrus Heights, CA. I remember my book very well and wish I had kept it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I attended the Sears Charm School in the late 60s in Washington, DC (Tenley Town area) and remember being given a 3-ring binder book. The course ended with being able to model clothes from Sears in the store. I too wish I had kept the book. I remember my Mom didn’t let my Dad know I was in the charm school or he would have had a fit. Not sure why, but seems funny now.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I attended Discovery Charm School at Sears in El Cajon, California back in 1981. I loved it and learned so much. I really wish there was something like it today that I could send my teenage daughter to.

  7. Vrederun says:

    I attended the Sears School For Young Charmers about 1967 in Norfolk, Virginia ~ Yes, we were all given the 3-Ring Notebook and at each class we would add that weeks lesson.

    Stacye

    Check out this audio interview (ad) 1967 on the Sears Charm School here . . .
    http://tinyurl.com/3r8z9f

  8. LB says:

    I was in the Sear’s Discovery Charm School around 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia. I remember my instructor and kept in touch with her through the 90s. I lost track of my notebook/binder in college. The charm school had a huge impact on my life and I wish it was still around for my kids. A large part of our coursework was public speaking and projecting self confidence in addition to the modeling.

    If someone locates a similar charm school program or finds the book from the class, please post it or email me as well.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I attended the Sears School for Young Charmers in the early 1970s in Nanuet, NY. I went with two other friends. We also had the three ring binder and the fashion show graduation. Wow, what a memory. I, too, wish I had kept that three ring binder. I remember reading it in fascination and I couldn’t wait to be older, so I could wear make up. Ha, I rarely even wear it now, at 47!

  10. miss amanda says:

    I am so glad so many have good memories of that program!! I, too, took the Sears Discovery Course, in San Diego, CA in 1975, sessions I and II. I still have my certificates and the 3 ring binder. This field became my passion and for those interested, I do teach a course for young ladies based in large part on that program. (Remember the Gosee?!) I am the Founder/CEO of the American Institute of Etiquette and teach many classes in addition to the one similar to the Sears class. I travel throughout the western region of the US. 760.732.3147

  11. Anonymous says:

    I too attended the Sears Charm School in the mid 1970′s and still have the 3 ring binder which is one of my favorite keepers. Although some of it seems a little sexist, i.e. not calling a boy, I still think it is applicable (with some adjustments) for a classy lady, like my mother was in the 1950′s! It was just common sense and good manners! If we want to be treated like ladies, we need to act like ladies!

  12. JBinDallas says:

    I attended charm school at Sears in the early/mid 70s. It wasn’t just for girls, though I was FAR outnumbered as a boy. That meant I had many more role-playing opportunities because they were trying to teach us proper etiquette in all sorts of situations. I remember learning how to sashy through a room with my hands tucked stylishly in my pockets, thumbs outside; we learned how to greet each other; we learned how to answer the phone; they even had us do the catwalk as part of our graduation ceremony. And mom wonders why I’m gay?!

  13. TKO says:

    It was definitely Sears. My sister and I attended Sears Discovery Charm School back in 1985 or 1986, in Edmonton Alberta, Canada.
    I still have the book somewhere in my storage room, myself. Lots of good advice that I took with me into later years, and it gave me great modeling experience.

  14. Jacque says:

    I attended the Sears Charm and Discovery School in Atlanta back in the 70′s It was the best think I could have done. I learned an awful lot of personal image skills that automatically became a part of me. My teacher was great. I think her name was Ms. Chaney and she was fierce.
    Jacquee Mc

  15. Jacque says:

    I still have the Sears Charm School 3-ring white binder with some great information still today.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I recently acquired the 1965 edition of the Sears School for young Charmers 3-ring binder with all the lessons. Anyone interested?

  17. Anonymous says:

    If you still have the 3 ring binder you should publish it on the web. My mom threw my book away and now that I have a tween it would be nice to pass the information on to her.

  18. carolmondine says:

    Proud to say I am also a Sears Charmer and just recently ran across my three ring binder and thought I would look online to see if anyone else had the experience. I am happy to have found this page. I still walk with confidence and occasionally eye the top of the door as I walk across a room reminiscing of those days. Carol Sacramento, California

  19. Anonymous says:

    I took the class in the early 70s at a Sears store in Brownsville tx. The store was still in the old towntown location on Elizabeth St. Loved the class and the book. Would love to buy it if available.

  20. Laura McNeal says:

    I attended the Sears charm school in Clovis, New Mexico, in about 1976. I'm writing an article about cotillion classes and would love to see a few pages from the three-ring binder (now gone) that I studied so avidly on the floor of my room. If you wouldn't mind faxing or e-mailing a few scanned pages to me, please contact me at http://www.mcnealbooks.com.

  21. Susan Payne says:

    Hi all,

    I’m wondering if anybody has a copy they could either scan, fax or mail. Or alternatively, does anybody know where we can get a copy? I did get the following information from the Sears archives:

    (1963)The success of a charm school for girls 9 to 19 years of age
    started in the El Monte, CA. store and has spread to 16 stores in the
    Los Angeles Retail Group.

    (1965) Since August of 1965, thousands of young girls, mostly in their
    teens, have been trooping into Sears stores signing up for 10-session
    courses in Sears new charm school. Elizabeth Reed was the coordinator.

    (1966) Sears School for Young Charmers had courses in 250 Sears retail
    stores across the nation and an estimate of 100,000 graduates.

    Please e-mail me if you have any ideas/suggestions at slpayne@gmail.com Thanks for considering

  22. admin says:

    Hi Susan,
    Due to the kindness of a reader awhile back, I did get my hands on one of the books from this course (the 1972 version). It’s pretty long but I could scan parts of it to share. Won’t be right away but I will try to get to it soon! Thanks for the information from Sears – I think I tried to contact them awhile ago but they were of little help at that time.
    ~ Miss Abigail

  23. Sara says:

    I went to the Sears Charm School in Toledo, Ohio in the early 1970s. I still have the complete book in my bookcase. As a joke, I have my diploma framed and hanging near the kitchen/dining area to remind my friends that I graduated! I was a tomboy and my mother wanted me to go. I turned out well regardless.
    Sara

  24. admin says:

    That’s great Sara! I would love to see a picture of your certificate – if you don’t mind I could post it here.

  25. sara says:

    I will scan the diploma and send it soon. It was 1971 and I was 10 years old. My mother was concerned because I wanted to climb trees and play baseball with the boys. I liked being a girl, as well, but I also was a tomboy. So she MADE me go on Saturdays. Somehow I graduated and received my diploma! Actually, this past Thanksgiving at the dinner table, I again pointed out the diploma on the wall to my sons and my mother. I heard the same comments… that it obviously didn’t work!

    P.S. I wish there was a mandatory class taught to young children in school about manners, proper dress, and behavior. I think, however, that this skipped a generation. Their parents would have to attend, as well!

  26. Debbie says:

    I not only have the certificate, I have the charm bracelet that was given to me! Wish I still had the binder, though.

  27. Beverly says:

    I attended Sears Charm School for Young Ladies around 1969-70 in Madison, Tennessee. Two of my girlfriends went also. I remember so much about the whole thing. Our teacher was Miss Nadeau and I thought she was beautiful. We received a box with cologne, make-up and some other things in it. I can almost still smell that cologne sometimes. The class was in the basement close to the tools and appliances, so anytime I’m in the tool section of a store, the smell takes me back to Charm School. We learned how to get in and out of a car gracefully, how to walk proudly, how to remove our coats properly, how to go up and down stairs like a lady, and so much more. My younger sister makes fun of me to this day (now I’m 53) about Charm School, but it was a wonderful experience for me. I still remember most of what we were taught then. Believe it or not, it has probably helped me in lots of situations and I wouldn’t have learned these things otherwise. One of the other things that I liked about it was that my mom would drop me off and I would meet a friend in the restaurant in the basement of Sears. We would eat hamburgers and fries all alone and feel so grown up before going to class. This is one of my best childhood memories.

  28. Beverly says:

    I forgot to mention that the course ended with a fashion show and someone being crowned “Miss Charm School.” This was not me as I was in my glasses and braces period!

  29. Cheryl says:

    I attended “Sears School for Young Charmers” in 1971 in Troy, Michigan. I still have my 3 ring binder — in perfect condition, however my bracelet is gone and I have no idea if my mother still has my certificate. And I don’t even know if she took any pictures of us “modeling” our chosen Sears outfits — ha ha. My sister and I both tripped while leaving the stage — embarrassing ! And when I returned to school in the fall and showed off my little bracelet, boy, was I ever picked on !!!! But, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything and I wish there were archives somewhere on the net !

  30. Reba says:

    I am looking to purchase a Sears Charm School Notebook? Does anyone have one or know where I can purchase it?

  31. Robyn says:

    I am so happy I found this site! I lost my notebook, but I remember the class as though it happened yesterday. I took the class around 1966 with a friend. Our classes were at the Sears in Greenwood, Indiana. Thought of it last night after watching an Oprah “Master Class” episode, showing her proudly standing in front of the sign for the “Sears School for Young Charmers!” I, too, would love to replace my notebook. If anyone knows where to find the notebooks, please let me know. So happy to see there are so many others who attended!

  32. admin says:

    Sears could earn quite a bit and make a lot of women happy by reproducing these notebooks!

  33. rosina says:

    I too am a graduate of Sears School for Young Charmers. I still have my binder and have shared it with many girfriends throughout the years. My younger cousin also attended and we laugh about it quite often. I showed the “manual” to her daughter and she found it humorous. I learned many lessons from my instructions that I have incorporated throughout my life…… now 55. I can go into any social situation and know how to behave and carry myself…. i think that was my mother’s intent when she sent me there. My favorite instruction was the one about how to get in and out of a sports car like a lady. They set up folding chair and instructed us in the sit and swing method…. well now I’m older and life in general has changed…unfortunately i don’t find myself getting in and out of sports cars, but hoisting myself up in a truck! They need to revise the manual….. I have a method. Still being a lady!

  34. Jeanni says:

    Any chance anyone has a notebook they want to sell? I’m looking….thank you

  35. Bridget says:

    I took the Discovery Course at Sears in 1972. In Ottawa Ontario. I wish they still had something like this. I know a few girls in the 10-16 age range who should be forced to go to this… What ever happened to manners and poise and grace?

  36. admin says:

    Someone got in touch who has a Sears Discovery Charm School Notebook Book from 1970 available for sale. “There are some underlining in pencil and some boxes are checked off. But it looks fully intact some minor cover damage.” If interested, send me a note at missabigail missabigail.com and I’ll connect you with the seller.

  37. Pam Wagner says:

    I was a Young Charmer too! I did the Sears charm school in the mid 60′s in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. From what I have read Vincent Price was involved in putting the school together and he did some of the drawings in the book. I’d dearly love to have a binder if anyone knows of one for sale!