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 ‘engagements’

Etiquette for Engaged People

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

he should mingle with her relativesI’m just bursting with joy! My baby sister Jennifer Grotke and her wonderful guy Tony Perez announced their engagement this week, so of course I had to check out some advice for the recently engaged. This is from Lillian Eichler’s Etiquette in Public, first published in 1924. Congrats to the happy couple!

1924: Etiquette for Engaged People

There is perhaps no time when the rules of etiquette need to be so strictly observed as during the period between betrothal and marriage. All the world loves a lover, but this does not keep the world from watching closely and condemning any breach of good manners, especially on the part of the young lady.

It hardly seems necessary to mention that any public display of affection is ill-bred. Love is sacred and beautiful, and it should not be thrown open to the rude comments of strangers. The young couple should conduct themselves with quiet dignity and poise, neither indulging in terms of endearment and caresses, nor purposely ignoring each other so as to create the impression that they are not, after all, so very much in love. There is no reason why their conduct in public after they are engaged should be any different from what it was before.

‘In former times, engaged young people were chaperoned within an inch of their lives,’ saysVogue. ‘Now, of course, they are allowed to go about with each other much more freely.’ Although it is still regarded as poor form by well-bred people for the young couple to attend the theater and opera together without other friends in the party, it is often done without any very serious consequences to the young people. In large cities young people go about a great deal together, and no one thinks anything of it.

At parties, dinners, and other entertainments it is the privilege of the young man and woman who are engaged to be with each other more than they are with anyone else, but this does not mean that they should make themselves conspicuous by ignoring everyone else. If the luncheon or dinner is given for them, as is frequently done by friends and relatives, they should make every effort to see that there is no constraint, no drifting into ‘circles.’ The young lady should welcome her future husband’s friends as cordially as her own; and should see to it that all necessary introductions are made. He should mingle with her relatives and friends and make himself companionable and agreeable.

An engaged man, of course, does not show attention to other women, nor does an engaged girl show interest in other men. This does not mean that they need to isolate themselves or build a wall around themselves. It means, simply, that neither he nor she must be seen around frequently with someone else, for even in this enlightened day such conduct sets the gossip’s tongue a-wagging.

Source: Eichler, Lillian. Etiquette in Public. Hoboken, N.J.: R. B. Davis and Company, 1924.
~ pp. 46-47 ~

Will You Be My Special Love Ring Wearer?

Monday, July 12th, 2010

such excitements are injuriousQ Dear Miss Abigail:

My boyfriend just bought me a “love” ring ~ what I would call an engagement ring ~ we are committed to each other, love each other, want to spend forever together, but we’re not for sure if we want to get married. Can’t we still be engaged without the prospect of marriage?


A Dear PEB:

A bit confused, are we? To be engaged is to “pledged to be married” according to my dictionary, so I think that means yes, you have to be at least planning to get married. If you drag it out too long you could be in for some torture, as this anonymous author warns inMother’s Guide and Daughter’s Friend.

1890: Engagements

Long engagements are to be avoided, especially if the parties are frequently in each other’s society. There are good physiological reasons why the close relations sustained by the lady and gentleman engaged should not be continued for a very long time.

A certain degree of excitement of the sexual system is a necessary consequence of the caresses and admiring glances which lovers bestow upon each other. This is an excitement which meets with no gratification. All such excitements are injurious to the nervous system if they occur frequently and are long continued . . . [especially] those who are very sensitive and easily excited.

Again, as a consequence of sexual desires being ungratified, in the course of time in indifference may spring up and the physical factor in love may die for want of consummation.

Source: “An Old Practitioner.” The Mother’s Guide and Daughter’s Friend. Indianapolis, Ind.: Normal Publishing House, 1890.
~ pp. 106-7 ~