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 ‘finding men’

Go Forth, Young Women, and Find Men

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

hardship accompanies every pioneering effortQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I am eighteen years old and have never had a boyfriend, not even a date. I haven’t even been kissed. Guys tell me I’m cute but don’t ask me out. I’m not the thinnest girl and I dont have the biggest breasts and I have glasses and I don’t dress sexy. So how do I attract a decent guy without going to a club. Also, I work a lot and don’t go out too much. Where are good places to meet a decent guy?

Girl that is boyfriendless

A Dear Girl:

Well, well, young lady. Seems like you should just give up all hope. Or, perhaps you prefer to think outside the box and take Nina Farewell’s advice, from this classic¬†Every Girl is Entitled to a Husband (1963). Now granted, her statistics are from quite a few years ago, but something about this seems to ring true, don’t you agree?

1963: Do Not Remain Where Women Outnumber Men

Pack your suitcase (or your trunk) and Go! Run! Fly! Though it be painful to leave one’s home in a beautiful and exciting place like, let us say, Washington, D.C., to move to a remote backwater like, let us say, Lawton, Oklahoma, anyone who is serious about finding a husband will not permit sentiment or aesthetic considerations to hold her back.

Lawton is cited advisedly, for there you will find 100 males for every 71 females! (All sex ration figures given herein apply to population over the age of eighteen.) Our great capitol city, on the other hand, is so hopelessly undermanned, that if every bachelor inside its bounderies were forced to wed tomorrow, there would be tens of thousands of girls left without partners.

A deficiency of single men is the greatest evil that exists in our big cities. Even New York, queen of them all, rich and proud and peerless, has a meager supply, with only 88 males to every 100 females. This is a surprise to some people, who think that you can find everything in a large metropolis.

The census reports are full of surprises. One would hardly suspect for example, that the gigantic, virile state of Texas which seems the very synthesis of maleness, is more feminine than masculine in its population. Still, Texas has a kind of irresistible lure ~ no doubt because of all those oil wells ~ and the girl who really wants to go there should not be discouraged by the general picture. A perusal of the statistics (check and prove all figures, even mine, writing to the local Chamber of Commerce for verification) will reveal that individual places within the state have an excellent sex ration. . . .

A thorough investigation of the census is very rewarding. One should be acquainted with the figures on cities both near and far, including those of foreign lands. A girl with vision may see the wisdom of forsaking not only her State, but her Country, and even the Temperate Zone, in order to relocate where the sex ration is most favorable to her. . . .

Hardship accompanies every pioneering effort. Let us remember our heritage. Our forebears crossed an unfriendly ocean to settle in a wilderness; they froze and starved and forfeited their scalps in order to achieve their goal. Surely the daughters of such a people will not hesitate to uproot themselves to go in search of their heart’s desire.

Source: Farewell, Nina. Every Girl Is Entitled to a Husband. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company,1963.
~ pp. 42-46 ~

1869: Draw Up An Advertisement

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Oh my. Here we are in 2007, thinking we’re all so clever using the internet and newspaper classified ads to find dates and mates, but we’re not. I stumble across a quote from 1869 (yes, 1869!) suggesting that men having trouble finding a wife might want to take out an ad in newspapers. Widely circulated newspapers. Lots of them.

The book? The Science of a New Life, by John Cowan. Here’s an excerpt:

Do not regard it as absurd and wrong if I advise you to do precisely as a farmer would, who, desiring to purchase a farm, and having examined all within his country that are for sale, and finding none that will suit him–he advertises….The world, in its progressive, onward march, with its thorough intermixture of race and quality, offers a broader and wider field for the selection of a rightly constituted mate, than does the narrow field of a village or city ward, and the people of this wide-world area can in no better way be reached than through the advertising columns of the newspaper.

You draw up an advertisement, stating in as few words as possible your idiosyncrasies, and inviting replies from only those who imagine they approach your standard character. You insert it in one or more papers of large circulation, and it is read by thousands of marriageable women, and among them, it is possible, the one who would make you an unapproachable mate, and who, of course, could not possibly have ever heard of you other than in this way. A correspondence is commenced with a score of more of those having an appearance of suiting; a phrenological analysis of the character of each is requested by you [there’s an earlier section of the book that suggests this as an important step in the courtship process; I will spare you the details], and which, being received, is compared and returned; presently the right one is discovered, and an engagement follows.

Miss Abigail again: The author goes on to discuss the pros and cons of this sort of thing. Pros include “it allows an immensely wide field for a right selection” and something about the “Law of Choice… in writing unfolding each other’s characteristic traits; or, what is more preferable, more desirable…” and again he repeats the benefits of that phrenological chart. Cons: “Characters of impure formation … probably have adopted this way of securing a victim to their lustful natures.” Hmm… he seems to blame women for that one. Let’s skip ahead. He sums up his theory about the benefits of advertising yourself in the paper this way:

It needs no argument to show that there is something radically wrong in the present mode of mate-choosing. The every-day records of family quarrels, scandals, separations and divorces, too sadly prove the fact that the present method of forming matrimonial alliances must in some measure be changed, if a happy and enjoyable married existance is desired.