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!


Posts Tagged ‘books’

Recent Acquisitions

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Manual of Health for Women: Illustrated
There have been some recent acquisitions to Miss Abigail’s collection to tell you about.

This summer, while on I paid way too much for a book I couldn’t resist – it is titled: Manual of Health for Women: Plain advice in sickness and health (1906). Just look at this cover! It is “respectfully dedicated to the women of America by the Author.” I’m a sucker for the old health books, particularly aimed at the ladies. The preface describes “female troubles” which are “so frequent especially among the so-called better classes that one rarely finds a healthy woman.” The author hoped to diminish the suffering of these women by imparting wisdomn of diseases and medical advice. I sure hope it worked!

Back in October, I scored big at the annual Library of Congress staff book sale. Among my finds were:

Life Saving & Water Safety (1937) (lots of images of tipping canoes);

A Cooperative Method of Natural Birth Control (1976) with a lovely photo of morning glories on the cover and other flowery images inside;

The Art of Counseling: How to Gain and Give Mental Health (1939);

Booklet for Women Who Wish to Determine Their Own Names After Marriage (1974), published by the Center for a Woman’s Own Name (let me just file that under “so glad times have changed”);

Your Wedding: How to Plan and Enjoy It (1977 ed.);

Working Wardrobe: Affordable Clothes that Work for You! (1982). A little beyond my collecting years through the 1970s, but I guess as we age it can’t hurt to expand into the 1990s! Besides, the big hairdos are priceless.

(I paid only $3 for the lot! Does that make up for my expensive purchase?)

Somewhere along the way I also picked up Home Entertaining: A Complete Guide (I think at an estate sale). Published in 1950, this one should be fun to peruse for holiday party tips!

Housewifery (1919)And most recently, my mom found Housewifery: A Manual and Text Book of Practical Housekeeping, by Lydia Ray Balderston (1919) at a yard sale, and donated it to the cause just last week. It was part of Lippincott’s Home Manuals, a series of books with other topics such as clothing, successfully canning and preserving, home hygiene, household business, laundering, and millinery.






The book has some wonderful illustrations and photographs, such as this one which would have helped with my recent bathroom renovation. Apologies for the crooked photo, I was in a rush and didn’t get around to fixing it before posting.

Types of Flooring

Mom and I were also enjoying the cleaning supplies and equipment. This one shows an early clothes dryer that clearly didn’t take off.

Metal Clothes Drying Cabinet

She also showed me some fun stuff about vacuum cleaners. That reminds me, I keep trying to teach the dogs to vacuum but they are slow to learn. Maybe I’ll read it out loud to them!

Recent Acquisitions: Speech and Personality Books

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

I was in Austin, Texas, for the long, hot, weekend and was mostly spending time with family, so I got only a few moments of shopping in at the amazing Uncommon Objects. I could have spent hours there! But due to my uncanny ability to focus and look for and find advice books in high-pressure situations (“only 10 minutes til the dinner reservation! I’m heading over!” called out sis), I scored two books from the “Mental Efficiency Series” while there: Speech: How to Use it Effectively and Personality: How to Build It.

Now that I’m home and looking at these, I’m pretty sure I have another of these in my collection, but I’m having trouble finding it on my shelves just now. Oh wait, there it is: Practicality: How to Acquire It. Funny thing is, the two new books are from 1915 and slightly smaller than the practicality title (that’s from 1916).

I’ll poke around in these and see if I can find something fun to share later this week.

In the meantime, happy belated Independence Day!

What’s on my bookshelf?

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I cleaned up my office this weekend, so that means things have been straightened enough to take some not-so-embarrasing photos of the bookshelves. I like to do this every so often to remind myself of how I organized things at any given time, and how the collection has grown. The current shelves are a bit overflowing and double-stacked but our house is small, and marriage is all about compromise, so I’ve tried to be good and not take over the entire house. So, this is the best I can do, though some books not picture are indeed in the living room.

Plus I’m trying out a new WordPress plugin to managing image galleries. It’s not quite working the way I meant, so I’ll keep looking for another option. In the meantime, here’s a peek at the shelves!

[catablog category=bookshelf]

Stone Ridge Book Sale this weekend!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

In previous years, I’ve picked up some good used book finds at the Stone Ridge Book Sale. The event returns this weekend, in Bethesda, Maryland.

That Monday $10 a bag sale is particularly enticing ~  if the government ends up furloughing this weekend I’ll have some extra time on my hands, anyway!

Speaking of Marriage…

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Just saw this over at Boing Boing: images from and commentary about a 1962 book titled When you Marry.

Future Advice Book Collectors, Take Note

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Just came across this handy list, for anyone thinking of starting a book collection in oh, about 50 years. Just think, your collection could take a loving look back on the quaint era of the early 2000s!

Awful Library Books

Monday, June 1st, 2009

What may not belong in a library any longer, could have a home on my bookshelf. These books are great, in an awful way, as the bloggers so rightly describe. Librarians, send them my way!

Mr. America

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

There’s a new biography out, by Mark Adams, about one of my favorite authors, Bernarr Macfadden.

It’s called How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet.

The Post had a review today – I haven’t read the book yet but plan to pick up a copy!

Birthday Chats with Tomorrow’s Man – a little family history

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Originally uploaded by Miss Abigail.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing from a woman named Robin, the granddaughter of Louis Le Claire Jones, author of the 1940 Birthday Chats with Tomorrow’s Man. She had done a Google search after finding a photocopy of her grandfather’s book and stumbled across this site. She writes “I’ve known for years that he had created this book for his sons Bob, Dick and Bill Jones (Bob was my Dad. Dick and Billy were my Uncles)… I never got to meet either of my Father’s folks. Daisy, his Mom, died while the sons were fairly young, and Louis died a few years before I was born in 1948. I can only assume that the dedication in the front of the book is referring to her….” She told me that he was a musician, as was Daisy. The book is illustrated with some cartoons, and we both wonder if Louis created these (she thinks he might have). She goes on to report: “Here is a fun bit of info for you: beneath the printer’s name in the front of the book, you will see Distributors: Richards and Williams 112 S. Scoville Ave, Oak Park, IL. Richard and William were my Dad’s younger brothers, and 112 S. Scoville is where they grew up!! I think Louis had a sense of humor.”

To get a taste of some of her grandfather’s advice, visit Tips for the Turned Down and The Nerve!

Thank you, Robin, for sharing this wonderful information! I love to hear from the families of authors of my books; if there are others of you out there, please get in touch.

Cataloging in the New Year

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I’ve been spending the last few weeks adding more of my many, many books to my LibraryThing catalog. I’m up to over 550! Woohoo! About halfway there! (This is a slooow, manual process, since most of my books don’t have ISBNs or LCCNs I can’t take advantage of their auto-import function.)

My book database originally lived in an old Filemaker database that runs on an old Mac operating system that I no longer have access to. In the spirit of digital preservation (which I live with every day at work), I have been migrating my book collection database to LibraryThing over the past few years. This offers me a better, easier, more fun way to share my collection with you and others, and also allows me to export the books and use them in other new and exciting ways.

Which leads me to point out a database (available by subscription hopefully at your local public or university library) product from Alexander Streets Press called Twentieth Century Advice Literature: North American Guides on Race, Sex, Gender and the Family. I learned about this database from some work colleagues at the Library of Congress. Since there was an obvious connection to my interests and collection, I got in touch with Alexandria Street. We’re currently in talks about how we might share information. There is some overlap but they’ve got stuff I don’t, and I have titles they don’t, so it’ll be fun to compare notes.

And if you can get access through your library, do check it out. They’ve done a fabulous job scanning the books in full color and providing access. A joy to see (well, I am just a bit biased!).