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 ‘kindness’

Things I Must Do To-day

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

reflect universal kindness[Note to Readers: This was obviously written just after 9/11…] No joking around this week, dear friends. As the helicopters pass over my Washington, D.C., home just blocks from the Capitol, I think endlessly of the friends and family and strangers touched by the horrible tragedy that was September 11. I struggled tonight to find an appropriate quote and still don’t know if this is the right one, but it’s a start. This simple selection is from Arthur Gould and E. E. and M. A. Dodson’s book titled How to Obtain Your Desires.

1923: Things I Must Do To-day

I must guard from danger through affection.

I must be strong and energetic.

Whatever I do to-day must be vital.

I must reflect universal kindness.

I must concentrate my energy, and direct it into the right channels.

I must keep my mental windows open to the sky.

I must receive nothing but good from all the world, that I may give back nothing but good to all the world.

Source: Gould, Arthur and E. E. and M. A. Dodson. How to Obtain Your Desires: Positive Thoughts Attract Success. Chicago: Advanced Thought Publishing, 1923.
~ p. 47 ~

That’s What Friends Are For

Monday, August 30th, 2010

oo one resents being correctedQ Dear Miss Abigail:

My best friend is acting really strange. She started hanging out with an old friend who always manages to get her in to trouble. I am really worried about her. Could you please help me find a way to tell her how I feel about her new old friend without hurting her feelings?


A Dear Sunshine:

Let the strength of friendship swing into action! Time to tell your pal to stay out of trouble. I suppose this advice from The New Book of Etiquette isn’t terribly new anymore, since Lillian Eichler wrote it way back when. But I think still holds true, and should at least provide some good reading to you all. What better topic than friendship?

1924: The Ethics of Friendship

It is not enough to make friends; you must know how to keep them. When you make a new friend whose friendship you value and wish to keep, learn his idiosyncracies and respect them. Learn his little peculiarities of manner and bear with him. Force yourself to be conscious always of the fact that while he has faults of which you are aware, you have faults of which he is aware. The ideal friend overlooks these little things and looks only for the big.

Doubt and suspicion are fatal to friendship. A friend worth having is a friend worth trusting. In time of doubt there should be a frank explanation. A true friend will not listen to criticism from others regarding his friend; will never gossip about him; will protect him from slander; will refuse to hear or believe evil of him.

There should be absolute sincerity in friendship. If your friend has done something or said something of which you disapprove, go to him and talk to him about the matter. You are false to your friendship if you talk to others about it.

If you want to correct a friend for some mistake he has made, do so with all the grace and tact you would use in correcting a stranger. No one resents being corrected. It is the manner of the person who makes the correction that is usually resented. Your friend is certainly entitled to as much consideration as you show your acquaintances.

Too many of us feel that we can take liberties with our friends that we would not dare to take with strangers. Handle your friend’s book as carefully as you would the book of a new acquaintance, more carefully than you would handle your own. Do not feel that because it is with your friend that you have an engagement that you can be half an hour late. Real friendship is founded on courtesy, kindness, and understanding.

Source: Eichler, Lillian. The New Book of Etiquette. Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing Co., 1924.
~pp. 74-75 ~

Temper, Temper, Temper!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

the girl with a bad temperQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Is it polite to throw things at people?

Miss Kate

A Dear Miss Kate:

Hmmm . . . why do I think you already know the answer to this question? But just in case you need a refresher course in common sense, I’ve located the following excerpts: the first is from Arlene Francis and her book titled That Certain Something: The Magic of Charm (1960). The other, found in Charm for Young Women, was written by Anne Culkin a few years later. I think they serve as a fine reminder of some of the troubles we may face as we try to stay on the path to Charm City.

Oh, Kate? Before we continue, would you do me a favor? Would you mind putting down that knife?

1960: Think About Someone You Dislike ~ And Wish Him Well Even If It Kills You

Our own pettiness and hatreds detract from charm much more seriously than we’re inclined to think. When I get letters (I resent letters that are anonymous) that tell me I make the viewer sick and why don’t I drop dead, I envision the mean, tight, little mind and soul that would prompt such an unpleasant attack, and know what a miserable life such a person must lead. To constantly slander those whom you dislike is to eat away at your own spirit. Inner harmony has for its outward expression grace and felicity, and while that may sound a little like Pollyanna at a picnic, it’s a darned sight easier to live with than hatred, which Byron so succinctly called ‘the madness of the heart.’

Source: Francis, Arlene. That Certain Something. New York: Julian Messner, Inc., 1960.
~ p. 139 ~

1963: Temper

The person who loses her temper loses much! The harsh words that cannot be recalled, the emotional outbursts that frighten as well as repel, prompt one to ask: ‘What is ever gained by it?’ If, prior to explosion, she were to ask herself this question instead of counting to ten as often recommended, the uncontrollable temper would soon be brought under control; and once again, or perhaps for the first time, the girl with a bad temper would be thought of as a lady!

Source: Culkin, Anne. Charm for Young Women. New York: Deus Books, 1963.
~ pp. 135-36 ~