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’

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

[Sorry for the delayed post, I tried to put this up Christmas eve but blogger wasn’t cooperating, arg]

I picked up a few books at a used bookshop on the Eastern shore of Maryland in early December, and thought I would share a little from two of them on this lovely Christmas Eve.

The image [well, I tried to post it here but am having trouble with Blogger. Click here for the image] is from the 1936 Health by Doing, and the text below is a game from a 1928 book titled Hygiene and Health. So if you’re feeling a little bored tonight after dinner, have a little fun with this game!

Night Before Christmas

The players form in a circle and each is given the name of something connected with the story of Santa Claus, as sled, chimney, bells, mittens, fur coat, stockings, candy, etc. One player is chosen to be “it” and stands in the center while he tells a Christmas story in which he uses now and then the words given the players as names. Whenever he mentions the name of any of these things the one who has this name must turn completely around. If Santa Claus is mentioned, all players must turn around. If the one who is “it” can tag any player before he has turned around, the one tagged must be “it” and go on with the story. The game may be made more difficult by having the players sit.


Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

New Book on Emily Post

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Over the last few years I’ve been in contact off and on with author Laura Claridge, who just published a book about Emily Post titled Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners. I haven’t gotten my copy yet but did spot this write up in Slate this week. If you are an etiquette fan, this book should be on your shelf!

It’s not pornography — it’s etiquette!

Friday, February 15th, 2008

This article is great! And they are digitizing them! Can’t wait.

Thanks for the tip, Jurretta!

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.

1966: Country Life

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

I’m in Vermont for a few days of R&R; and found a few books at a used bookshop in Brattleboro:

Lao Russell’s Love; a scientific and living philosophy of love and sex;

A 1980 reprint of the 1768 The delights of wisdom concerning conjugial love: after which follow, the pleasures of insanity concerning scortatory love by Emanuel Swedenborg;


Sex after Forty, which could come in handy now that I’m of that age.

To give you a taste, and to follow up on the nature theme, and since I’m in Vermont enjoying it’s beauty, here’s an excerpt from Russell’s book. It’s from a little section called “Country Life.”

One who loves country life always feels sorry for those who have not discovered the exciting and beautiful world of Nature. No one can ever be lonely as he walks in the woods and discovers the pulsing, singing, courageous, growing trees, and the bright, glowing beauty of wild flowers–an endless array of them. Each month you discover another species. Did you know that there are actually about twenty-five kinds of chickweeds? Their little white flowers contain tiny capsules of small seeds that songbirds love.

Nature is far more exciting than odor-filled cities whose streets are filled with raucous noises, instead of the sound of the songs of birds, the rustle of leaves, falling twigs, and the “chatter” of wildlife both far and near. . . .

No life is as exciting as forest life, and yet man crowds into cities where there is tension created by man who all too often desires to build transitory wealth for his body, instead of permanent wealth for his Soul.

Ah, with that, I’ll head back out into the woods. I’ve been on the computer way too long!

Free Books!

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

No, not free books for you, sorry. Unless you head over to where I was yesterday afternoon — The Book Thing in Baltimore, Maryland, where you can take as many free books as you can carry (really!). It’s a fabulous place, particularly for an addict like me. I hadn’t been in a few years, so went with my new friend D. yesterday and we found 22 titles for the Miss Abigail collection. Favorites include:

~~Complete Book for the Intelligent Woman Traveler (should help me on my trip to Paris next month)

~~one from the author of another favorite — Live Alone and Like It. The newly found book is titled Keep Going and Like It for the over 60s crowd

~~a 1930 medical book with slightly disturbing (yet humorous) photographs titled Mental Aspects of Stammering

~~and, complete with instructions for paneling your refrigerator, How to Apply Paneling

See the full list of new additions freshly cataloged on Library Thing.

1932: Manners to Books

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Digging through an unorganized pile of some of my books, I found one I’d forgotten I had, titled Mr. Manners: A Manual of Good Manners, by Rose Henniker Heaton. It was published in 1932 by Burns Oates & Washbourne, London. The title page continues: “for Good Children, together with AWFUL EXAMPLES of WILD MANNERS and WILD CHILDREN.” There’s not much more description than that, other than a chart of The Manners Family: Father, Mother, Nicky (aged 9), Jane (aged 8), Simon and Simonette (twins, aged seven), Toby (aged 6), and Petronella (aged 4). Hmm, Father and Mother must have been quite the busy couple.

Here’s an example of how this little book reads, from a section titled “Manners to all Kinds of Things”:


“Books,” said Mr. Manners, “should be treated like friends.” But alas!

NICKY scribbled little men in blue chalk over his.
JANE bent the covers backwards.
SIMON upset his milk over his while reading at table.
SIMONETTE turned down the corners.
TOBY left his in front of the fire in the winter, and on the lawn in summer,
PETRONELLA took care of hers so that she would be able to show them to her great-great-grandchildren when she was an old lady.

Go Petronella!