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 ‘doctors’

Qualities of a Good Doctor by a Doctor

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

he is neat and handyMy sweet sister is paying a quick visit to the hospital this week, so doctors are on my mind just a smidgen. Good doctors, that is. They better be very good doctors! They can just take this as a warning ~ don’t mess with Miss Abigail’s family! Oh, sorry, where was I . . . ah, yes, good doctors, nice doctors.

This advice is from C. H. Fowler’s Home and Health and Home Economics. It’s somewhat helpful, though I don’t know how I feel about the need for the doctor to be “a man, in the true sense of the word.” Of course this was published in the 1800s, and based on the advice of an “able member of the profession,” so I guess I can’t be too critical.

1880: Qualities of a Good Doctor by a Doctor

Here is a very suggestive summary of hints covering the question of choosing a physician. It has the authority of an experienced and able member of the profession. Read and ponder: ~

Avoid the mean man, for you may be sure he will be a mean doctor, just as certainly as he would make a mean husband.

Avoid a dishonest man; he will not be honest with you as your physician.

Shun the doctor that you can buy to help you out of a scrape; a good doctor cannot be bought.

Avoid the untidy, course, blundering fellow, though he may bear the parchments of a medical college.

Avoid the doctor who flatters you, and humors your lusts and appetites.

Avoid the man who puts on an extra amount of airs; be assured that it is done to cover his ignorance.

Avoid the empty blow-horn, who boasts of his numerous cases, and tells you of his seeing forty or fifty patients a day, while he spends two hours to convince you of the fact. Put him down for a fool.

To be a doctor one must first be a man in the true sense of the word.

He should be a moral man, honest in his dealings.

He must have good sense, or he cannot be a good doctor.

He should be strictly temperate. No one should trust his life in the hands of an intemperate doctor.

He must have some mechanical genius, or it is impossible for him to be a good surgeon.

It is a good sign if he tells you how to keep well.

It is a good sign if the members of his own family respect him.

It is a good sign if the children like him.

It is a good sign if he is neat and handy at making pills and folding powders.

It is a good sign if he is still a student, and keeps posted in all the latest improvements known to the profession for alleviating human suffering.

Source: Fowler, C. H. and W. H. De Puy. Home and Health and Home Economics. New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1880.
~ pp. 66-67 ~

1940: How to Telephone Your Doctor

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

My little sister Jen is expecting her third child, and is currently on bed rest ~ at the hospital!! ~ until the kid is born, hopefully within a few weeks. Other than the circumstances early Saturday morning that brought her there, she and baby are doing fine and she just needs to stay put rather than chase my nieces (ages 3 and 4) around the house. She should enjoy her quiet time while she has the chance!

She’s obviously on my mind a lot these days, so I thought I’d look to the books for some advice that might help her out. While she’s close enough now to her doctors that this might not be necessary, the following still seems like wise, if not fairly obvious, advice, to me: “Under all circumstances, talk to the doctor yourself if at all possible. To relay questions and answers back and forth through a third party is not only likely to result in a misleading story for the doctor, and garbled advice for you, but trebles the time consumed by the call.” This might be particularly handy for Jen, who once, after some procedure, had me call her doctor to ask when the pain would stop.

By the way, this quote was found in Nicholson J. Eastman’s Expectant Motherhood (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1940). Don’t worry, he’s a guy, yes, but he knows a little something about the topic. His credentials back then were listed as: Professor of Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University; and Obstetrician-in-Chief to the Johns Hopkins Hospital.