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!

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Posts Tagged ‘Health’

2015 Inventory of Collections: Shelf 1, Row 1: Health

Sunday, March 8th, 2015


Over the years I’ve done a so-so job of tracking which books are in my collection, from a long-ago database on my old Mac, to my website bibliography, and an ultimate move to Librarything.com which has been great and so much easier, but I’ve never managed to get all of my titles loaded.

So for 2015, I’m starting a new book inventory project, and hope to get everything documented so others can see the full extent of the collection and enjoy the covers, some of which are pretty fabulous. The goals and what I’m up to:

1) Ensuring all of my books are listed in my online database over at Library Thing
2) Photographing the bookshelves and book covers (unless the cover is completely blank–for instance hardcovers that have no jacket–in which case I’ll skip those, but you can see the spines in the shelf photos)
3) Uploading the covers to my Flickr account (and hopefully I can get them loaded into LibraryThing as well, though I’m having difficulty at the moment doing that)

I don’t have any interns helping, unfortunately, so this may take me awhile, unless Lulu the dog can help do some data entry… but check back here for updates as I add more shelves and sections this year.

To start off, I’ve finished the first row of my first bookshelf, which you can see in this Flickr album. Things are loosly grouped on the shelves into topics (no LCSH or Dewey Decimal organization here, sorry!), and this first group is from the HEALTH section.

Enjoy!

Prostration by Heat (1931)

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog as of late. I’ve been posting over on Facebook and Twitter (the lazy blogger’s way of staying connected). The big news since I last updated here is that the Off-Broadway show that was loosely based on my book, has closed as of the end of June. It had a good long run! And the show is still playing in the Czech Republic, so that’s pretty cool. It’s also available for others to buy up the subsidiary rights.

The other news has been the crazy weather in the D.C. area this week. Between the derecho and power and cable and internet and phone outages and extreme hot temps, I think we’ve had about enough excitement. We didn’t quite hit the goal of the all-time-record of 106° yesterday here in the D.C. area, but that’s okay by me.

Besides napping yesterday and keeping cool, I spent some indoor time adding to my LibraryThing catalog. I have a backlog of books to include (at least a few hundred more), plus recent editions, like a huge tome called Domestic Medical Practice: A Household Advisor in the Treatment of Diseases, Arranged for Family Use that I got an an estate sale for $1 (score!). This book has 1463 pages of text, fabulous images, and certificates of membership in the “Domestic Medical Society” (I suppose that after you’ve read the book, you are worthy).

Certificate of Membership

The following section, titled “Prostration by Heat,” seemed particularly fitting to share today:

"This may results not only from direct exposure to the sun’s rays, but it is liable to occur under any circumstances where a person is overheated, and is more frequent in a moist atmosphere than in a dry….

The attack may come on quite suddenly, or it may be preceded by quite severe pain in the head, great sense of heat, and thirst. It is said, there is often frequent desire to make water. The patient may fall suddenly, or may gradually succumb, after having suffered a time from headache, heat, and a great sense of fatigue. The symptoms vary. Commonly, however, the pulse is frequent, though weak, in which it differs from the pulse of apoplexy, where the pulse is slow and strong. The circumstances under which a person becomes unconscious must serve to a certain extent as a guide to the unprofessional observer as to its cause, and should a person becomes unconscious when in the hot sun, or while exerting himself violently in a very highly heated atmosphere, and at the same time the skin be found very hot indeed, it would be proper to act upon the supposition the the person was suffering from sunstroke, as it is called. The danger arises from the great elevate of temperature….

hot stuff

The patient may be laid on the ground or floor, or anywhere else, and all clothing removed from the neck and chest. Ice may be applied to the head, or water may be poured over the head and neck, and even the chest. Should medical aid be within easy reach, these measures will suffice until its arrival….

It should be remembered that sunstroke is a grave accident, and its treatment should not be trusted to domestic remedies, since it is impossible to so describe its symptoms or treatment, as to safely guide an unskilled person in caring for a difficult case….

A person who has a slight attack of sunstroke as manifested by headache, dizziness, and great heat, should under no circumstances, after having been relieved by cold water and rest, return at once to work, since he is liable to suffer again, even more severely than at first."

The above image, while it was in this book, didn’t technically go with this section, but I thought it was amusing!

 

 

The Care and Feeding of Children: Airing (1907)

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

My fabulous friends Laura and Dave are, in the next few weeks, about to have their lives changed by the arrival of a bouncing baby boy. Upon realizing that I had an extra copy of a book called The Care and Feeding of Children, I passed along the 1920s version (I kept the 1907 copy for the collection) to counterbalance all of the probably-more-relevant advice they are getting from more modern-day baby books.

The book was written by L. Emmett Holt, who was a well-known pediatrician back in the day. The book, according to the NIH website, was “originally written as a manual to assist the training of nurses at the Babies’ Hospital” and was quite popular, with 12 editions and an amazing 75 printings. Check around your houses; no doubt there are many copies still out there in people’s attics! Wonderfully, you can see the whole text of the 1894 version here).

For Laura and David, who were recently shocked to learn at a baby class they should not leave the house with the child for months and months, I thought this advice on “airing” the baby would be fitting. Airing indoors sure sounds like fun!

"

How early may airing indoors be commenced and how long may it be continued?

Airing in the room may be begun, even in cold weather, when the child is one month old, at first for only fifteen minutes at a time. This period may be gradually lengthened by ten or fifteen minutes each day until it is four or five hours. This airing may be contained in almost all kinds of weather.

Is there is not great danger of a young baby’s taking cold when aired in this manner?

Not if the period is at first show and the baby accustomed to it gradually. Instead of rendering the child liable to take cold, it is the best means of preventing colds.

How should such an airing be given?

The child should be dressed with bonnet and light coat as if for the street and placed in its crib or carriage which should stand a few feet from the window. All the windows are then thrown wide open, but the doors closed to prevent draughts. Screens are unnecessary.

At what age may a child go out of doors?

In summer, when one week old; in spring and fall, usually about one month; in winter, when about three months old, on pleasant days, being kept in the sun and out of the wind.

What are the best hours for airing out of doors? 

In summer and early autumn a child may be out almost any time between seven in the morning and sunset; in winter and early spring, a young child only between 10 or 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., although this depends somewhat upon the climate. In New York and along the Atlantic coast the early mornings are apt to be damp and the afternoons raw and cloudy.

On what kind of days should a baby not go out?

In sharp winds, when the ground is covered with melting snow, and when it is extremely cold. A child under four months old should not usually go out if the thermometer is below freezing point; nor one under eight months old if it is below 20° F.

What are the most important things to be attended to when the child is out in its carriage?

To see that the wind never blows in its face, that the feet are properly covered and warm, and that the sun is never allowed to shine directly into the eyes when the child is either asleep or awake.

Of what advantage to the child is the going out?

Fresh air is required to renew and purify the blood, and this is just as necessary for health and growth as proper food.

What are the effects produced in infants by fresh air?

The appetite is improved, the digestion is better, the cheeks become red, and all signs of health are seen.

Is there any advantage in having a child take its airing during the first five or six months in the nurse’s arms?

None whatever. A child can be made much more comfortable in a baby carriage, and can be equally well protected against exposure by blankets and the carriage umbrella.

What are the objections to an infant’s sleeping out of doors?

There are no real objections. It is not true that infants take cold more easily when asleep than awake, while it is almost invariably the case that those who sleep out of doors are stronger children and less prone to take cold than others.

What can be done for infants who take cold upon the slightest provocation?

They should be kept in cool rooms, and especially when asleep. They should not wear such heavy clothing that they are in a perspiration much of the time. Every morning the body, particularly the chest and back, should be sponged with cold water (50° to 60° F.).

How should this cold sponge bath be given?

The child should stand in a tub containing a little warm water, and a large bath sponge filled with cold water should be squeezed two to three times over the body. This should be followed by a vigorous rubbing with a towel until the skin is quite red. This may be used at three years, and often at two years. In the case of infants a little higher temperature (65° to 70°) may be used."

Brrrr!!!

Personal Hygiene for Young Women and Men (1920s)

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

For my day job, I work at the Library of Congress helping archive the Internet, and I don’t often get to see the physical stuff in our collections. So when a colleague tipped me off to some amazing films from the 1920s that had apparently been in our nitrate vault and scored by another colleague, I was really excited! These predecessors to the health and hygiene films of the 1950s are fantastic. I posted these over on Facebook but they deserve a more permanent blog post, so here you are:

First up is one for the men:

 

And even better, one for the young ladies:

 

Enjoy!

Keeping Fit to Fight

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Keeping Fit to FightIn honor of Veteran’s Day, I perused advice books in the collection geared towards military families and spouses, such as You…your children…and War and What Every Army Wife Should Know. But instead of giving you some advice about marrying before or after the young man goes to war, or some tips for Army wives in holding down the fort while her soldier is sent away, I couldn’t help but share something written specifically for the soldier. It’s from a 1918 pamphlet called Keeping Fit to Fight, which was “authorized and distributed by The War Department Commission on Training Camp Activities” and “prepared by the American Social Hygiene Association… at the request of and approval by the Surgeon General of the Army.” On first glance it appears to be a nice little health or fitness booklet. It starts off innocently enough, but soon cuts right to the chase on what the REAL message is!

~~

This is a man-to-man talk, straight from the shoulder without gloves. It calls a spade a spade without camouflage. Read it because you are a soldier of the United States. Read it because you are loyal to the flag and because you want the respect and love of your comrades and those you have left at home.

HEALTH WILL DO MUCH TO WIN THE WAR

Next to military obedience there is nothing so important in a soldier’s life as health, and if he practices military obedience, as every true soldier must, he will surely have good health.

Your health is even more important than ammunition. Without health, ammunition is worthless.

Your health is even more important than guns. Without health, guns cannot be effectively manned.

Your health is even more important than bravery. Bravery in bed does not win battles.

Your health is even more important than efficient officers. Without healthy soldiers, the greatest officer is helpless.

Disease used to kill more soldiers than bullets, but such diseases as smallpox, yellow fever and typhoid have been practically wiped out. Today the greatest menace to the vitality and fighting vigor of any army is venereal diseases (clap and syphilis). The escape from this danger is up to the patriotism and good sense of soldiers like yourself.

Will-power is the first preventative when temptation comes. If you and your comrades use the “I’ll-be-damned-if-I-do” will-power against sexual desire, venereal diseases in the army will be conquered and there will be much less to fear from the enemy.

Will-power and courage go together. A venereal disease contracted after deliberate exposure through intercourse with a prostitute, is as much of a disgrace as showing the white feather.

A soldier in the hospital with venereal disease is a slacker.

He keeps equipment idle.

He keeps a uniform out of service.

He leaves a break in the line.

He must have the attendance needed by men disabled in the honorable discharge of duty.

His medicine and care cost money that could be otherwise used to win the war.

He has lost the self-respect which is the backbone of every true soldier.

If you go with a prostitute, you endanger your country because you risk your health, and perhaps your life. You lessen the man-power of your company and throw extra burdens on your comrades. You are a moral shirker.

WOMEN WHO SOLICIT SOLDIERS FOR IMMORAL PURPOSES ARE USUALLY DISEASE SPREADERS AND FRIENDS OF THE ENEMY.

No matter how thirsty or hungry you were, you wouldn’t eat or drink anything that you knew in advance would weaken your vitality, poison your blood, cripple your limbs, rot your flesh, blind you and destroy your brain. They why take the same chance with a prostitute?

~~

There’s much much more, written to scare the boots off of any soldier, with graphic details about what gonorrhea and syphilis does to a man (and to his wife, if he passes along the disease to her). And a bonus quote from President Woodrow Wilson on the back cover! “Let it be your pride, therefore, to show all men everywhere not only what good soldiers you are, but also what good men you are, keeping yourselves fit and straight in everything, and pure and clean through and through.”

How to Distinguish Death

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

in case there is great doubtThis week’s selection is from Professor T. W. Shannon’s Nature’s Secrets Revealed: Scientific Knowledge of The Laws of Sex Life and Heredity or, Eugenics. You never know ~ this might come in handy someday.

1916: How to Distinguish Death

As many instances occur of parties being buried alive, they being to all appearances dead, the great importance of knowing how to distinguish real from imaginary death need not be explained. The appearances which mostly accompany death, are an entire stoppage of breathing, of the heart’s action; the eyelids are partly closed, the eyes glassy, and the pupils usually dilated; the jaws are clenched, the fingers partially contracted, and the lips and nostrils more or less covered with frothy mucus, with increasing pallor and coldness of surface, and the muscles soon become rigid and the limbs fixed in their position. But as these same conditions may also exist in certain other cases of suspended animation, great care should be observed, whenever there is the least doubt concerning it, to prevent the unnecessary crowding of the room in which the corpse is, or of parties crowding around the body; nor should the body be allowed to remain lying on the back without the tongue being so secured as to prevent the glottis or orifice of the windpipe being closed by it; nor should the face be closely covered; nor rough usage of any kind be allowed. In case there is great doubt, the body should not be allowed to be inclosed in the coffin, and under no circumstances should burial be allowed until there are unmistakable signs of decomposition.

Source: Shannon, T. W. Nature’s Secrets Revealed: Scientific Knowledge of The Laws of Sex Life and Heredity, or Eugenics. Marietta, Ohio: S. A. Mullikin Co., 1916.
~ pp. 503-504 ~

Fuzzy Math

Monday, August 30th, 2010

her moral energies are prostratedQ Dear Miss Abigail:

A man bought a number of eggs at three a dollar and as many eggs at four a dollar and sold them all at the rate of seven for two dollars, losing one dollar in the bargain. Find the number of eggs he bought.

Signed,
Sreekumar

A Dear Sreekumar:

I’m sorry ~ last week I was working and playing in New York City, and then when I got home Saturday night I went to a fabulous Halloween party. I really tried to concentrate on this problem of yours, but according to The Young Lady’s Aid to Usefulness and Happiness, which was written in 1838 by Jason Whitman, I can’t possibly answer your question. I need to rest for a few days, at least!

1838: Intellectual Improvement

In regard to amusements and recreations, I have sometimes thought that we overlooked or forgot the refreshment which may be derived from a mere change of pursuits. Consequently, we often fatigue and unfit ourselves for mental efforts, and destroy, for the time, our moral energies, by the exciting nature of our amusements. A young lady is often so engrossed in the anticipations of a ball or assembly, so absorbed in thought and feeling while preparing for it, and so highly excited amidst its scenes, that she is unfitted for any vigorous and profitable intellectual efforts for days after. And, then too, in the fatigue which follows, her moral energies are prostrated. Had this young lady simply danced at home, with her brothers and sisters, or with friends and neighbors who might be present, without any previous feverish anticipations, or any fatiguing preparations, it would have been a healthful and refreshing amusement. So if a young lady is fatigued with long continued study, or feels that she is in danger of neglecting to take sufficient exercise for her health, let her leave for a while her studies, and bestir herself in useful household labors, and she will find herself much refreshed.

Source: Whitman, Jason. The Young Lady’s Aid, to Usefulness and Happiness. Portland, Maine: S. H. Colesworthy, 1838.
~ pp. 189-90 ~

Put Heart-Warmth in Your Voice

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

modulate it musicallyStill recovering from getting my wisdom teeth out last weekend, I’ve been doing some jaw exercises to relax the muscles and help lessen the pain. So when I came across this exercise of the voice, I found it helpful. Well, maybe not so helpful, but it sure made me laugh when I tried her suggestions, and so took my mind off the pain. The quote is from the third edition of The Woman You Want to Be: Margery Wilson’s Book of Charm.

1942: Put Heart-Warmth in Your Voice

Your voice reflects emotions as surely as a mirror gives back the image of what is placed before it. No amount of vocal excercises will put ‘soul’ into a voice. The magnetic, warm overtones that can make a homely woman seem charming are the definite results of sweetness, generosity and love of humanity. There is no way to imitate this warmth in the voice. It must come within. Throughout these lessons we bring out certain qualities of mind and character that give this entrancing timbre to the voice.

However, many of our noblest people pitch their voices so badly that the natural sweetness is choked out. It behooves everyone to place the speaking voice correctly and to modulate it musically. Here is an exercise that will take the shrillness and nasal quality out of any voice and lend it to a lovely mellowness.

EXERCISE: Yawn. Hold your throat open and repeat the word ‘mood’ very distinctly three times, pitches as low as you can without growling or producing a false tone. Imagine that the ‘oo’ sound comes from your chest. This vowel opens your throat. Now with your throat in the position it took to say ‘mood’ repeat the word ‘ice’ three times. Again ‘mood’ three times ~ then with the throat in the ‘oo’ position say ‘ice’ three times. Do this ten times. Now say ‘mood’ three times; with the throat in the ‘oo’ position say ‘early’ ~ then substitute the words ‘regular,’ ‘Mary,’ ‘pie,’ ‘fancy’ and ‘three.’ Always say ‘mood’ first and be sure to pronounce distinctly. This exercise will take the shrillness and nasal quality out of any voice and give it a lovely mellowness. Do this regularly and whenever possible and as long as you can without tiring unused muscles. Practice using the principles of contrast in conversation.

Source: Wilson, Margery. The Woman You Want to Be. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1942.
~ pp. 58-59 ~

Please Make My Zits Go Away!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

hardly visible to the naked eyeQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have a bunch of zits on my forehead that never seem to go away. I use pimple-fighting creams and scrubs but they never go away! What can I do to make them go away? Why won’t they go away in the first place? Is there a cream out there that would actually work for my face?

Signed,
Krystal

A Dear Krystal:

Somehow I am sensing that you would like those zits to go away. This bit of advice about those horrible beasts comes from a recent acquisition written by Professor Jefferis and J. L. Nichols. The complete title is: Search Lights on Health: Light on Dark Corners. A Complete Sexual Science and A Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood. Advice to Maiden, Wife, and Mother. Love, Courtship, and Marriage. And that doesn’t even cover half the book. I love it.

Now back to this pimples thing. Let me just remind you that I am not a doctor, and this is old, old advice, containing many terms that I don’t even know how to pronounce (what is potash, anyway?). So promise me you won’t rub carbolic acid on your face without consulting a dermatologist first. And one other thing ~ FLESH WORMS … eeewww!

1911: How to Cure Pimples or Other Facial Eruptions

1. It requires self-denial to get rid of pimples, for persons troubled with them will persist in eating fat meats and other articles of food calculated to produce them. Avoid the use of rich gravies, or pastry, or anything of the kind in excess. Take all the out-door exercise you can and never indulge in a late supper. Retire at a reasonable hour, and rise early in the morning. Sulphur to purify the blood may be taken three times a week ~ a thimbleful in a glass of milk before breakfast. It takes some time for the sulphur to do its work, therefore persevere in its use till the humors, or pimples, or blotches, disappear. Avoid getting wet while taking the sulphur.

2. Try This Recipe: Wash the face twice a day in warm water, and rub dry with a course towel. Then with a soft towel rub in a lotion made of two ounces of white brandy, one ounce of cologne, and one-half ounce of liquor potassa. Persons subject to skin eruptions should avoid very salty or fat food. A dose of Epsom salts occasionally might prove beneficial.

3. Wash the face in a dilution of carbolic acid, allowing one teaspoon to a pint of water. This is an excellent and purifying lotion, and may be used on the most delicate skins. Be careful about letting this wash get into the eyes.

4. Oil of sweet almonds, one ounce; fluid potash, one drachm. Shake well together, and then add rose water, one ounce; pure water, six ounces. Mix. Rub the pimples or blotches for some minutes with a rough towel, and then dab them with the lotion.

5. Dissolve one ounce of borax, and sponge the face with it every night. When there are insects, rub on flower of sulphur, dry after washing, rub well and wipe dry; use plenty of castile soap.

6. Dilute corrosive sublimate with oil of almonds. A few days’ application will remove them.

Black-Heads and Flesh Worms. This is a minute little creature, scientifically called Demodex folliculorum, hardly visible to the naked eye, with comparatively large fore body, a more slender hind body and eight little stumpy processes that do duty as legs. No specialized head is visible, although of course there is a mouth orifice. These creatures live on the sweat glands or pores of the human face, and owing to the appearance that they give to the infested pores, they are usually known as “black-heads.” It is not at all uncommon to see an otherwise pretty face disfigured by these ugly creatures, although the insects themselves are nearly transparent white. The black appearance is really due to the accumulation of dirt which gets under the edges of the skin of the enlarged sweat glands and cannot be removed in the ordinary way by washing, because the abnormal, hardened secretion of the gland itself becomes stained. These insects are so lowly organized that it is almost impossible to satisfactorily deal with them, and they sometimes cause the continual festering of the skin which they inhabit.

Remedy. Press them out with a hollow key or with the thumb and fingers, and apply a mixture of sulphur and cream every evening. Wash every morning with the best toilet soap, or wash the face with hot water with a soft flannel at bedtime.

Source: Jefferis, B. G., and J. L. Nichols. Search Lights, or, Light on Dark Corners. Naperville, Ill.: J. L. Nichols & Co., 1911.
~ pp. 111-13 ~

Am I Bald?

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

a too-tight ponytail is one villainQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Am I bald?

Signed,
Claudia

A Dear Claudia:

Well, sweetie, it’s kinda hard for me to tell via email. But here are some thoughts about baldness from a delightful little book calledYour Hairdo, written by Elaine Budd. And if you are not bald yet, her words should help you avoid such a catastrophe!

1966: Fallout and Baldness

Normal Fallout. You normally lose between fifty and a hundred hairs per day ~ perhaps even more in spring and autumn when you, like most creatures, have a “moulting season.” Often a new hair grows in when the old one falls out, but sometimes follicles become dormant and rest for a few years. Other follicles are meanwhile reawakening, so in normal circumstances the number of hairs on your head remains about the same.

Sudden Fallout. The Problem ~ There are also certain “abnormal” normal reasons for hair fall. After certain diseases ~ especially if you’ve run a high fever or if your body is generally run down ~ hair fall may be higher than usual, possible resulting in baldness.

The Solution ~ This type of baldness, called post-infection alopecia is generally temporary; hair growth will go back to its normal rate when your body is up to par again.

Patchy Baldness. The Problem ~ Another type of “abnormal” normal hair fall is alopecia areata, or patchy baldness. Hair loss here is in localized patches in different areas of the scalp. Many young girls complain of this condition. One of the causes is physical ~ the destruction of hair by actually pulling it out. A too-tight ponytail is one villain; the same hair style worn week in, week out, without even changing the part, is another. Stretching the hair on rollers tightly in the same place every night is also destructive.

The Solution ~ To avoid this sort of hair loss, follow these general rules:

1. Avoid tight headbands, tight hats, a tight hairdo that skins hair back from the head.
2. Keep changing position of part, ponytail rubber bands.
3. Keep hair clean ~ excess oil can act as a depilatory.
4. Massage scalp gently each night.
5. Avoid too-strenuous brushing.
6. Don’t roll hair tightly on rollers, and do vary their position.
7. Avoid overfrequent permanents.
8. Eat a balanced diet.
9. Get enough sleep and exercise.

Source: Budd, Elaine. Your Hairdo. New York: Scholastic Books Services, 1966.
~ pp. 84-86 ~