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Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
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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 ‘illness’

Home Nursing

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

a flower or a little surprise giftI apologize for the slight delay this week ~ I was called upon to help my dear sister out this weekend after her appendix was yanked out.

In light of my own recent situation, I provide for you some tips about taking care of a sick relative. I do wish I had found this advice before the surgery ~ had I known that she could have been sorting and filing recipes, I would have turned off the television!

1966: Home Nursing

When least expected, you may be called upon to provide nursing care for a member of your family. At one time or another, most families have had such experiences. Much can be done to make them easier, and at the same time, to promote the general well-being of the patient.

The sickroom can be made comfortable and pleasant with flowers, house plants, attractive curtains, or a colorful picture. Furnishings that will not be useful can be removed to make the room easier to clean. Good ventilation and lighting are important. Disturbing noises should be minimized, and if possible, eliminated.

Sickroom equipment can often be improvised to save the expense of buying or renting it. For example, a simple orange crate, with an added shelf, makes a practical bedside table. Special equipment such as hospital beds can sometimes be borrowed from local health and welfare agencies. . . .

Illness generally curbs a person’s appetite. Although a sick person should not be forced to eat, nourishment is essential. A patient’s appetite can be stimulated by food that is well prepared and attractively served. A colorful tray with small food portions and a flower or a little surprise gift or food item can encourage a patient to eat. If visitors are allowed, a relative or a friend may be invited to join him for an occasional meal.

A patient’s progress may depend a good deal on his mental outlook. Try to keep up his spirits by being cheerful and understanding. Check with the doctor on the types of activities allowed. Reading, knitting, sewing, letter writing, radio, television, puzzles, and crafts are some ways for the bedridden to occupy the time. A patient may be able to perform small jobs such as helping with mending, sorting, and mounting photographs in an album, or arranging and filing

Source: Laas, William, Ed. Good Housekeeping’s Guide for Young Homemakers. New York: Harper & Row, 1966.
~ pp. 172-73 ~

Keeping Well

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

go out to play each dayThis one goes out to my brother Chris, who’s been feeling a bit under the weather this week. It’s just a little reminder of how we all need to take care of ourselves, pulled from Here We Go, a book written for second graders in 1955 as a part of the “Health Action Series.” Feel better, Zippiter!

1955: Keeping Well

You need to be ready for cold, rainy days.

Stay at home when you have a cold.

Stay in bed.

When you have a cold, use a handkerchief to keep cold germs away from others.

Others can get cold germs from you.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Wash food before you eat it.

Keeping clean will help you stay well.

It is not good to do one thing for too long a time.

You need to go out to play each day.

You need rest if you want to stay well.

You need rest after work and play.

If you use your own things you do not give your germs to others.

By taking care to keep clean we can stay well.

Source: Wilcox, Charlotte E. and Edith S. McCall. Here We Go: Health Action Series. Chicago: Beckley-Cardy Company, 1955
~ p. 56 ~

Colds and What to Do with Them

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

goose greaseA bad cough and cold snuck up on me this week, so as I sat at home recovering for a few days I had plenty of time to read up on the subject. These interesting cures are from Professor B. G. Jefferis’s and J. L. Nichols’s Household Guide. Needless to say, I quickly decided to stick with today’s over-the-counter medicines and a box of tissues. Does anyone know what “syrup of squills” is anyway?

1902: Colds and What to Do with Them

It would be well if we could begin by changing the name. The fact is that colds, so-called, are all poisonings, but are brought on in quite different ways. The nerves of the skin are shocked, and its excretory functions are arrested. The retained poison then causes the inflammation or ‘cold.’ Very commonly the skin has been put into an over-sensitive and inactive condition already by overheated rooms, over-dressing, neglect of bathing, or bad air; and then exposure too slight to be recognized as such at the time does the rest.

First Stage. ~ To treat a cold successfully no time should be wasted at its incipient stage. The herald of approach is usually noticed in heaviness of the eyes and a dull, particularly ‘big’ feeling of the head similar to the effect of quinine. Physicians say that one in perfect health does not contract a cold; it is only when some of the bodily organs fail to perform their regular duties that the cold makes attack upon the system.

Remedy. ~ Doses of oil, cod-liver oil, skunk’s oil, goose grease, and many other sorts, have been found to help certain persons when suffering from colds; but not all. It is probably a question of digesting them or not. But whatever further medication one may elect, do not let it divert attention from the one greatest remedy ~ cold, pure air.


The first thing necessary is to get up a free and copious sweating. The object is to get the blood in active circulation and open the pores so that the poisonous matter can be thrown out through the skin.


1. A hot foot-bath and a good dose of strong ginger tea just before going to bed. Retire and cover warmly.

2. A hot foot-bath and a pint of hot lemonade taken just before going to bed will produce good results.

3. Flaxseed tea or a mild cathartic will often break up a cold.

4. If the cold is accompanied by a cough, give the following prescription:
1 ounce of Compound Syrup of Squills.
1 ounce of Syrup of Wild Cherry.
Mix, and take a teaspoonful every two hours.

Source: Jefferis, Prof. B. G. The Household Guide, or Domestic Cyclopedia. Atlanta, Ga.: J. L. Nichols & Co., 1902.
~ pp. 141, 142, 143 ~