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 ‘jobs’

Those Who May Not Marry

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

it is always to avoid self-pityThis week’s selection is from a book published by Dr. Warren Bowman, who was, at the time, pastor of a church in Miss Abigail’s home base, Washington, D.C. You’ll be relieved to find out that Home Builders of America (as I read in the introduction) “wholly avoids ‘pornographic paragraphs,'” and that “no one, indeed, would have any reason to hesitate to leave this book lying around . . . for any child or adult to read when and where he wished.” We wouldn’t want to deprive anyone from discovering the following passage. Let’s “face reality” together, now, shall we?

1938: Those Who May Not Marry

It would be unfair to conduct courses in marriage and home life without taking into account that there may be some in the group who will never marry. It is necessary for them to study how to make the most effective adjustment to single life as well as for the married to make their adjustment to married life.

Causes for remaining single. Causes for remaining single fall under several general heads: those who deliberately choose the single life, those who do not have the opportunity of marrying, and those who have the opportunity but do not feel that the available one is the right person. Some choose to remain single because of hereditary defects in themselves or in their family which they think make the risk too great for them to marry and have children. Others are too disappointed in love and the memory of the former person prevents them from falling in love with someone else. One of the most pathetic cases that ever came within the writer’s experience was that of a young college girl who during her early life had fallen in love with a married man and, because of this experience, could not give her love to other worthy young men who sought her hand. Then some have dependent parents or other obligations which they feel prevent them from marrying. Some put a career ahead of marriage, which is especially true of women of the professional class who go in for higher degrees. Finally, there are a few who have never had a suitable love affair. For some reason or other they have been deprived of the company of desirable persons of the opposite sex during their marriageable years. The majority in this group are young women, many of whom have keenly desired marriage and were well fitted to assume its obligations, but our standard, which gives the men the right to take the initiative in wooing, has left them out. Then, the fact that there is an uneven distribution of the sexes, more women than men and vice versa, in certain areas of the country, would naturally leave some without a mate.

In spite of the fact that some are left out, we must not forget that most men and women have the opportunity of choosing whether they will marry or not. Almost every man can find some mate if he so desires, and many women who are single today have chosen to remain so. . . . Many who have remained single might have been married if they had placed themselves in a more favorable environment for meeting suitable men.

Face reality. Those who find the years passing with no promising opportunity to marry should face the problem frankly and plan their lives accordingly. It would appear wise for them to study the biographies and autobiographies of single men and women who have lived satisfying and abundant lives. One might especially profit from studying the lives of those in the field of his interests who have turned single life into an asset. Single women would find it interesting to study the lives of Jane Addams, Florence Nightingale, and many other brave women who have given their lives to such professions as teaching, nursing, missionary activities, and social uplift. Many single women have made notable contributions to human betterment, far greater contributions perhaps than they would have made had they married. The same is true of some single men. Some of the outstanding men of history have remained single.

Find a desirable outlet. The severest stress on the single person comes from the blocking of emotional outlets. Thus it behooves those who remain single to take special care that their personalities are not warped by single life. This is just as true of the men as the women, for bachelors often develop peculiar habits and traits. Single people need a desirable emotional outlet which can often be found in social service. Thousands of single women today are doubtless sublimating their maternal tendency in such vocations as teaching, nursing, and social work. These fields are often blessed by having women in them who have strong maternal tendency, since they are likely to be more sympathetic toward the unfortunate. Some of the greatest contributions to human welfare have come from men and women who have converted their disappointments and suffering into a force for social betterment.

In making one’s adjustment to single life it is always wise to avoid self-pity. It is far better to find others who are more unfortunate than one’s self and make life pleasant for them. It is also healthy to take a vital interest in the life around one.

It is perhaps wise for young women especially to think of what they may do in case they do not marry. They may plan two careers, marriage, in case the right person comes along, and another career which they may follow in case they do not marry. The mentally healthy person who has planned for years in this dual manner will not likely be so disappointed if she never marries, but will be able to make a happy adjustment in some worthy vocation.

It is well to recognize that there are some who, because of peculiar temperament, would find the adjustments of marriage too difficult and should perhaps be advised to remain single. They would not only be unhappy in marriage, but would ruin the happiness of a mate.

Source: Bowman, Warren D. Home Builders of Tomorrow. Elgin, Ill.: The Elgin Press, 1938.
~ pp. 51-54 ~

Making Him Popular

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

clever women know betterQ Dear Miss Abigail:

My problem is my fiancé. I love him dearly but it seems that his work colleagues feel quite differently. This all came out on a recent training weekend when they were all a bit worse for wear. His job means everything to him and he is good at it, so I don’t know why everyone seems to dislike him so avidly. This is making his life a misery as he feels out of place in his workplace. He would hit the roof if I tried to talk to his colleagues about it so how can I help him to be liked? I have seen him in his work environment and he doesn’t act in a bad way to other people so I don’t understand why they are to him. Any ideas would be appreciated.


A Dear Cate:

This sounds like a job for Mrs. Dale Carnegie. She wrote a handy book in 1953 called How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead. You remember her husband, don’t you? Mr. Dale Carnegie? Anyway, her book was written for wives but seems quite appropriate for your situation. This piece comes from a chapter titled “Three Ways to Make Him Popular.” She talks of “making him lovable” and “touching the chords that bring out his best,” but I thought I’d focus on displaying his talents. Looks like it’s time to throw a party!

1953: We Can Display His Talents

Some women think that the way to show off their husbands is to show off themselves ~ in a mink coat, if possible. Clever women know better.

A young matron once confided to me that she wanted to learn how to tell funny stories effectively, so as to impress her husband’s friends. I had a time convincing this girl that she would do much better to let her husband tell the stories. There are few spectacles sillier than the average woman trying to tell a joke ~ unless it’s a woman straining to hold the spotlight while her husband twiddles his thumbs in a corner.

The easiest way to pleasantly highlight a husband is to plan our home entertaining around any particular talents he possesses if these talents give pleasure to others. The daily business routing rarely offers opportunity for displaying a man’s off-beat accomplishments ~ but parties are the perfect background.

Source: Carnegie, Mrs. Dale (Dorothy). How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead in His Social and Business Life. New York: Greystone Press, 1953.
~ pp. 213-14 ~

Go Hubby! Get a Job! Go Hubby! Ra Ra Ra!

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

nothing can shake her faith in himQ Dear Miss Abigail:

My husband lost his job. Any suggestions for how to be supportive and not be a nag. i.e. “so, what did you do today, dear?” Obviously not a good thing to say.


A Dear Debbie:

Yeah, I guess that would be a little awkward, particularly when the job market is so bleak. I’d say take Mrs. Dale Carnegie’s advice in How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead, and stay focused on keeping his morale high, because, as Mrs. Carnegie writes:

“Every man needs a believer, a woman who is for him when circumstances are against him. When nothing goes right, when he is under fire, when he fails, a man needs a wife who will build up his resistance and confidence by letting him know that nothing can shake her faith in him. If his wife doesn’t believe in him, who will?”

1953: Fundamental Techniques of Morale Building

Rule 1: Learn to listen effectively by:

a: Expressing alertness and attention through facial expression and bodily poise.

b: Asking intelligent questions.

c: Never betraying a confidence.

Rule 2: Help your husband be the man he would like to be by giving him praise and encouragement.

Rule 3: When things go wrong ~ be a believer!

Source: Carnegie, Mrs. Dale (Dorothy). How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead in His Social and Business Life. New York: Greystone Press, 1953.
~ pp. 54, 57 ~

How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

ways to make him popularThis week I bring you something a little different. What follows is the complete table of contents of Mrs. Dale Carnegie’s, um, intertesting book titled How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead, which shows quite clearly how warped some of this stuff can be. This one is definitely a keeper. Only after the introduction is the author’s name revealed ~ it’s Dorothy, in case you were wondering. Sorry, Dale, I know she loves you, but she did write the book, after all!

1953: How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead

Part One: The First Steps Toward Success
1. Help Him Decide Where He is Going
2. When One Goal is Reached ~ Set Up Another
3. What Every Wife Should Know About Enthusiasm
4. Six Ways to Raise Your ‘EQ’ [Enthusiasm Quotient]

Part Two: Fundamental Techniques of Morale Building
5. Learn to Listen Effectively
6. The Two Men You Married
7. When Things Go Wrong ~ Be a Believer!

Part Three: Four Ways to Give Him an Extra Boost
8. Know His Job ~ and Lend a Hand
9. How to Get Along with His Secretary
10. Encourage Him to Keep Learning
11. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Part Four: How to Be Adaptable
12. How to Be a Happy Rolling Stone
13. Overtime Work ~ and What to Do About It
14. How to Adjust to Unusual Job Conditions
15. How to Keep from Going Crazy if He Works at Home
16. Does Your Career Conflict with His Interests?
17. Don’t Be the Girl He Left Behind Him

Part Five: If You Want Him to Get Ahead ~ Avoid These Pitfalls
18. Why Men Leave Home
19. Don’t Be a Buttinsky
20. Don’t Try to Make Him Over
21. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Chance

Part Six: How to Make Your Husband Happy
22. ‘She Was So Pleasant’
23. Share His Interests
24. Encourage Him to Have a Hobby ~ and Leave Him Alone!
25. Have Outside Interests of Your Own

Part Seven: How to Give Him a Home, Sweet Home
26. ‘Just a Housewife’
27. ‘So Nice to Come Home to’
28. ‘I Never Waste Time’
29. Say It with Shortcuts

Part Eight: How to Make People Like Him
30. Three Ways to Make Him Popular
31. Make Mountains of His Virtues ~ Molehills of His Faults

Part Nine: How to Conserve His Health and His Wealth
32. How to Live Within His Income
33. His Life is in Your Hands

Part 10: The Greatest Contribution of All
34. Let’s Raise Our Standard of Loving

Source: Carnegie, Mrs. Dale (Dorothy). How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead in His Social and Business Life. New York: Greystone Press, 1953.
~ contents page ~

Does Your Career Conflict with His Interests?

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

aims and interests are mutualThis selection is written by Mrs. Dale Carnegie. In her introduction to this somewhat disturbing book with a very long title, How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead in His Social and Business Life, Mrs. Carnegie states:

“I wish I could guarantee that, by following the rules in this book, you would slowly but surely help your husband to become a millionaire. It isn’t inconceivable, but the odds are against it; great fortures are harder to amass these days, and the higher one goes up the ladder, the narrower it becomes . . . any woman who applies these principles intelligently and judiciously, will have removed many of the barriers that keep men low on the ladder. She will have gone very far indeed toward motivating and stimulating her husband’s natural impulse to give his best to the world, and that he will be a more secure and happier person she may rest assured.”

I think that says it all.

1953: Does Your Career Conflict with His Interests?

If you have a job or career of your own, would you be willing to give it up if it would advance your husband’s interests to do so?

If not, you’re reading the wrong book! You are more interested in promoting yourself than promoting your husband.

Helping a man attain success is a full-time career in itself. You just can’t hope to do it unless it is important enough to claim all your attention. . . .

I do not underrate the many wives and mothers who are forced by circumstances to work at jobs outside their homes ~ I salute them with profound respect. I believe that women should equip themselves to earn a living by their own efforts, since life is uncertain and none of us ever knows when she may have to become a breadwinner to feed, house and clothe her family. Sickness, death, unemployment and disaster can upset the best-laid plans.

But since we are discussing ways and means by which wives can help their husbands to succeed, we cannot ignore the fact that this is a big enough job in itself to demand single mindedness in a wife.

No wife who is conscientiously bending her efforts on a career of her own can have much excess energy left to promote her husband’s interests. There are exceptions to everything, but observation and experience have convinced me that husbands and marriages have a better chance when aims and interests are mutual.

So, the next important rule for being adaptable is:

Be willing to give up a career of your own if it conflicts with your husband’s happiness and best interests.

Source: Carnegie, Mrs. Dale (Dorothy). How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead in His Social and Business Life. New York: Greystone Press, 1953.
~ pp. 111, 113-14 ~

Woman: Waster of Energy

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

combination human being and robotWith so much going on in my life these days, I don’t know how I’m keeping it all together. How did women juggle it all in the past? Peter Steincrohn reminded me in his book How to Stop Killing Yourself.

1950: Woman: Waster of Energy

There are career women who want to have two jobs ~ because they are ‘career women.’ After years as an essential part of a large store or other organization, after having made a success in the entertainment world, after having experienced the joys of teaching, such women naturally dislike to resign it all for the seemingly uninteresting work of keeping a husband happy and raising a family.

Even if ill health does not strike them down because of the double strain under which they live, they exist unhappy and frustrated. You can’t do two jobs half-well and be as happy as you would be doing one job efficiently. When you are in the kitchen, you are thinking of your office downtown. When you are detained at work, you are worrying about how Johnny is doing and how your husband is holding up on an empty stomach after a hard day’s work.

The woman who continues this kind of living cannot easily make a success of it unless she is a combination human being and robot. If you can afford it, if your husband is earning enough to support the family, take advantage of it. Your home is more important than any job or career you may have on the side. No matter how well you think you are doing, your children and your husband are being neglected. The result is a family that is not a happy unit.

I have known, and you have known, many women who have wakened too late to remedy what might have been a simple problem. The price they paid was too high for what they thought they got out of managing two jobs. The happiest women I have known have been those who were content with their destiny: that of mother and wife. Their home was their castle, their husband the king, the little children princes and princesses. For them such was happiness enough. There is nothing more satisfying than contentment. These women found it.

Those of you who are not holding down two jobs by necessity would be wise to take inventory. Sell your stock outside of the home. Put all your energies henceforth into the home. If this sounds like old-fashioned advice, no one knows better than I do that it is. I give it to you because I, as a doctor, know too well the heavy responsibilities of the housewife. Knowing them I realize the value of trying all shortcuts to efficiency. Many women wear themselves out necessarily; too many, however, kill themselves without need.

Source: Steincrohn, Peter J. How to Stop Killing Yourself. New York: Wilfred Funk, 1950.
~ pp. 212-13 ~