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 ‘quiz’

Yola, the Teenage Witch

Monday, August 30th, 2010

are the working conditions pleasant?Q Dear Miss Abigail:

I would like to become a witch. It seems very stupid and funny, but it is what I would like to learn more about. I fill that I have some potential to make that possible. Please advise me where to start.


A Dear Yola:

Choosing a career is often a difficult decision. In your case, being a witch is really a religious choice and not a career choice, but I think some of the same principles would apply. So before you move to Salem to start a new life, use the following checklist from Everyday Living for Girls to ask yourself some questions about your “career” choice. Is this really what you want to do? Will you make enough money to support you and your coven?

1936: Things To Look For in Your Study of the Vocational Field

In your study of the vocational field answer the following questions, recording your findings in a notebook or file; then compare your findings in several fields and see in which you are most interested:

1.What are the duties to be performed in the occupation? Is the work varied or monotonous? Why?
2. Is the activity involved chiefly mental or physical? Are any special mental qualifications required?
3. Does the occupation have to do with people or things? If with people, how will their type affect you?
4. List the various occupations within this field and check the one in which one is usually first employed.
5. What are the education requirements?
6. What are the facilities for obtaining this education: (a) over the country; (b) in your locality?
7. How expensive is it to prepare yourself?
8. What is the chance for advancement, and through what steps is it accomplished?
9. Are there special physical requirements as to age, height, build, color, or others?
10. Will one’s tenure be affected by advancing years, regardless of the quality of one’s work?
11. Are the working conditions pleasant, healthful, and conducive to best effort?
12. Are the hours of work reasonable and regular?
13. Is the work dangerous, and to what extent?
14. Is the work steady or seasonal, and is there much overtime, night work, or rush work?
15. How many persons are engaged in this vocation, and is the occupation overcrowded?
16. What is the beginner’s salary? If the salary of a beginner is low, are there opportunities or advantages which make up for this?
17. In later years will there be time and sufficient income for recreation, enjoyment of home life, and participation in social and civic affairs? If you hope to marry, how will this vocation affect opportunities for social acquaintance?
18. What satisfactions, opportunities, advantages, or reward will you derive other than those of a financial nature?
19. Are workers paid by the piece, hour, or day? Do they receive a commission?
20. What pay does overtime work receive?
21. Does the occupation involve profit sharing?
22. Is a bonus paid?
23. Does the occupation carry sick benefits, workman’s compensation, pension?
24. Is the vocation likely to change on account of new inventions, a change in public taste, or modern trends?
25. Can you change to some kindred occupation if necessary? To what would you turn?
26. What social relation to the community does the work have?
27. How much vacation is allowed? Is it with or without pay?
28. How does one get a job in this field? 

Source: Van Duzer, Adelaide Laura, et. al. Everyday Living for Girls. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company,1936.
~ pp. 226-27 ~

Do People Like You?

Monday, August 30th, 2010

do you avoid being bold and nervy?Okay, everybody, it’s quiz time again! Get those pencils sharpened, because being liked is a most wonderful thing, and I sure want all of you to be as likeable as you possibly can. This self-analysis tool was published in Unit One of the Personality Development Series, written by Estelle Hunter. And in case anyone was wondering, my score was 59. I suppose I’ve got a bit of improving to do, but no matter what, I absolutely refuse to change my answers to #4 or #35.

1939: Do People Like You?

Every normal, healthy individual wants to be liked by others. If you have ever said that you didn’t care whether or not people liked you, you probably weren’t really honest with yourself. Perhaps you were trying to cover up hurt pride. The person who says bitterly, ‘I don’t care,’ really does care a great deal. He should face the fact squarely and try to discover the reason for lack of harmony in his relationships with others.

Donald A. Laird, after a series of experiments made in the Colgate Psychological Laboratory to determine what traits were of most importance in making people liked or disliked, compiled the list of 45 questions which is quoted below.

Give yourself a score of 3 for each of these questions to which you can answer ‘Yes’:
1. Can you always be depended upon to do what you say you will?
2. Do you go out of your way cheerfully to help others?
3. Do you avoid exaggeration in all your statements?
4. Do you refrain from being sarcastic?
5. Do you refrain from showing off how much you know?
6. Do you feel inferior to most of your associates?
7. Do you refrain from bossing people not employed by you?
8. Do you keep from reprimanding people who do things that displease you?
9. Do you refrain from making fun of others behind their backs?
10. Do you keep from domineering others?

Give yourself a score of 2 for each of these questions to which you can answer ‘Yes’:
11. Do you keep your clothing neat and tidy?
12. Do you avoid being bold and nervy?
13. Do you refrain from laughing at the mistakes of others?
14. Is your attitude toward the opposite sex free from vulgarity?
15. Do you keep from finding fault with everyday things?
16. Do you let the mistakes of others pass without correcting them?
17. Do you loan things to others readily?
18. Are you careful not to tell jokes that will embarrass those listening?
19. Do you let others have their own way?
20. Do you always control your temper?
21. Do you keep out of arguments?
22. Do you smile pleasantly?
23. Do you refrain from talking almost continuously?
24. Do you keep your nose entirely out of other people’s business?

Give yourself a score of 1 for each of these questions to which you can answer ‘Yes’:
25. Do you have patience with modern ideas?
26. Do you refrain from flattering others?
27. Do you avoid gossiping?
28. Do you refrain from asking people to repeat what they have just said?
29. Do you avoid asking questions in keeping up a conversation?
30. Do you avoid asking favors of others?
31. Do you refrain from trying to reform others?
32. Do you keep your personal troubles to yourself?
33. Are you natural rather than dignified?
34. Are you usually cheerful?
35. Are you conservative in politics?
36. Are you enthusiastic rather than lethargic?
37. Do you pronounce words correctly?
38. Do you look upon others without suspicion?
39. Are you energetic?
40. Do you avoid borrowing things?
41. Do you refrain from telling people their moral duty?
42. Do you refrain from trying to convert people to your beliefs?
43. Do you refrain from talking rapidly?
44. Do you refrain from laughing loudly?
45. Do you refrain from making fun of people to their faces?

The higher your score by this self-analysis the better liked you are in general. Each ‘No’ answer should be changed through self-guidance into a ‘Yes’ answer. The highest possible score is 79. About 10% of people have this score. The lowest score made by a person who was generally liked was 56. The average young person has a score of 64. The average score of a person who is generally disliked it 30. The lowest score we found was 12.

From these questions it is apparent that whether you are liked or disliked depends chiefly upon your attitude toward others. All your efforts at self-improvement will be of no avail if you think only of building up your own superiority. The consciously superior, the self-righteous person is never popular. If you would be liked, don’t try to impress the other person with your importance; make him feel important; show your interest in him.

Source: Hunter, Estelle B. Personality Development, Unit One: Your Physical Self. Chicago: The Better-Speech Institute of America, 1939.
~ pp. 120-22 ~

How Well Are You Groomed?

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

are your undergarments clean?This selection comes from a fabulous home economics book sent to me by my friend Helen in Kansas. She searched the region for an addition to Miss Abigail’s collection, and I must say she found the perfect text.

1936: How Well Are You Groomed?

Following are some questions to be considered in judging whether or not one is well groomed. How many of them can you answer satisfactorily? Talk them over with others in your group and compare opinions. Perhaps you will want to show these questions to your mother or to some older girl or woman and get her opinion as to how well you are groomed. List suggestions of ways by which better grooming can be attained.

Body Cleanliness.
1. Do you take a bath or shower every day?
2. Do you use a deodorant?
3. Do you keep the armpits free of hair?
4. Are you free from body odor?
5. If perfume is used, is it fresh, faint, and not cheap?

Face and neck.
1. Is your complexion good, your skin clear?
2. Are your face, neck, and ears clean?
3. Do you use the right shade of powder? Is it entirely invisible?
4. If rouge is used, what principles for selection and use are you trying to follow?
5. What bathing, eating, exercising, and other routines are you following to create an attractive complexion? Mention several of the “facial allies” to personality, such as clean teeth, interested manner, etc.

Eyebrows and eyes.
1. Are your eyebrows natural and brushed smooth?
2. Are your eyes natural, not exaggerated with make-up?
3. Are your eyes bright, healthy? Do you look straight into the eyes of others as you talk to them?

1. Are your hands clean?
2. Are they smooth and white, not red and rough?
3. Are your fingers a good color?
4. Are the nails manicured artistically, so that they are pleasing in shape, not too long, too short, too pointed, too square, too vivid, or too shiny?

1. Does your hair make a becoming frame about your face?
2. Is it tidy?
3. Does it look healthy, alive, well cared for?
4. Is the color natural, not bleached?
5. Is your hair free from dandruff?
6. Do you shampoo it at least once in two weeks?
7. Do you massage your scalp at least once a week?

Teeth and mouth.
1. Are your teeth attractive? That is, do they appear to be in a healthy condition?
2. Are your lips attractive, soft, not dry and cracked?
3. Do you promote a good natural color in your lips and cheeks by adequate sleep and exercise, and by medical attention if you are anemic?
4. Is your breath free from bad odors?
5. Do you clean your teeth at least twice a day?
6. Do you have them cleaned by the dentist one or more times a year, or often enough to keep them attractive?
7. Do you have them regularly examined by the dentist and cared for when needed?

Outer Garments.
1. Are your clothes clean, without spots and odor?
2. Are they neatly mended where necessary?
3. If you wear light-colored or white scarfs, collars and cuffs, or flowers, are they clean and neat?
4. Are your clothes well dressed, without undue wrinkles?
5. Are they well brushed, without dust, dandruff and stray hairs? If necessary, do you have a brush in your locker to freshen your garments?

Shoes and hose.
1. Are your shoes clean and well polished? Do you wipe them off every night? If not, how often? How often do you polish them? Have you a cleaning kit in your room?
2. Do you keep your heels clean and straight? When you polish shoes, do you polish the backs?
3. Are your hose clean? Do you wear a clean pair of stockings every day? Do you wash your own as most business and college girls do?
4. Do you adjust your stockings straight at the back seam without wrinkles at the ankles?
5. Are they neatly mended, if necessary?
6. Is your hat clean and well brushed?

1. Is your jewelry clean?
2. Are your gloves clean?
3. Are they neatly mended, if necessary?
4. Is your purse clean and in good condition?
5. Are your handkerchief, powder puff, and comb clean?
6. Are they kept out of sight?

1. Is your slip the right length for your dress?
2. Do your shoulder straps show?
3. Are your undergarments clean? That is, do you change them three or four times a week?

Health routines.
1. Do you get out in the sunlight every day?
2. Do you walk enough daily to stimulate circulation?
3. Do you play games once or twice a week hard enough to cause perspiration? And follow it with a cleansing bath?
4. Are you interested in acquiring a natural “peaches and cream” complexion from outdoor life, exposure to sun and wind, vigorous games, and adequate sleep?
5. Do you drink six to eight glasses of water daily? Have daily elimination?
6. Can you find among your friends those in whom good health practices are the cause of their natural attractiveness and good spirits?
7. What health practices can you add to the routines here suggested to increase personal fitness and wholesome attractiveness?

Mental health and personal appearance.
1. Do you consistently maintain a friendly attitude toward others? A person friendly to others never lacks friends.
2. Do you harbor resentments or quickly forget them? Do you allow yourself to be easily provoked and continue to feel put out? “A good forgetter of trifling disappointments is a good looker.”
3. Have you a complaining voice and unpleasant ways at home? Cosmetics will not cover faults that pull down the corners of your mouth and put crow’s feet around your eyes.
4. Whatever your religious faith, do you maintain a daily contact with the spiritual resources of life:
By reading something inspiring and worthwhile?
By reflecting on the widening of helpful relationships in your own town, nation, and the world and what you can do to enlarge the rule of good will at home, in business, and between nations?
5. Do you subscribe to the friendly code:
“Come on, let’s live and let’s help others to live, with richer lives, wider interests, fuller opportunities, for young and old, rich and poor, American and foreigner!” If you do, then you will have a personality worth grooming a bit in private; but after grooming in private, forget the art and go out with a friendly smile. The world has a place for every such person!

Source: Van Duzer, Adelaide Laura, et. al. Everyday Living for Girls. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company,1936.
~ p. 108-10 ~

How to Be a Girl with a Boy

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

you don't have to faint to be feminineThis important information comes from Kay Thomas’s Secrets of Loveliness, found during a thrift-store shopping spree.

Section 1 of this book ~ “You and Your Feelings” ~ includes a few tests to help you figure out just how lovely you are: “Do You Really Like Yourself?” “How Lovely a Daughter Are You?” and “How Do You Get on with Girls?” This week’s selection focuses on the most important test of all . . . “Are You a Good Date?”

Before we begin, however, I will also tell you of the most charming, or shall I say lovely, aspect of my purchase. The tests have been answered by (I’m assuming) none other than the book’s original owner ~ Ida Fisher. As a bonus I have included the “correct” answers, as well as Ida’s and my own. Good luck to you, my friends!

1969: How to Be a Girl with a Boy

What are your feelings about yourself when you’re on a date with a boy you like? Do you feel happy and comfortable about being you? If you do, chances are that boy will think you’re a lovely girl.

On a date, if your feelings about yourself are happy, it will be partly because of things you do on that particular date. One of the most important things is to act in ways that will make your date feel masculine and protective toward you.

This means that you should give your date a chance to open car doors for you, help you down from a bus, find a seat at the movies when there is no usher, give your order to the waiter.

Another important thing to do is to act in ways that will make you feel feminine. This doesn’tmean that you have to act helpless ~ you don’t have to faint away to feel feminine in this day and age! It does mean that you should speak softly, move quietly, and act in a gentle, ladylike way. It means that you should have discussions rather than arguments; that you should give him suggestions (if asked!) but not orders; let him be the center of the stage ~ not you.

If you follow this sort of “party” line, you’re learning how to be a lovely and popular girl.

Are You a Good Date?

Test yourself by checking (a), (b), or (c) below:

1. When alighting from a bus, do you:

(a) head for the center door right away because that’s where you’re supposed to get off? ____
(b) wait for your date to step outside so you can go out first? ____
(c) let your date go ahead and help you down? ____

2. In a restaurant, when a boy asks you what you’d like to eat, do you:

(a) choose the most expensive thing on the menu so he won’t feel embarrassed? ____
(b) choose whatever strikes your fancy and then give your order to the waiter? ____
(c) ask the boy what he suggests and then let him give the order? ____

3. At a dance, if a boy is stuck with you, do you:

(a) decide to stick it out? ____
(b) suggest you sit out the next one so he can get away gracefully? ____
(c) try to steer him toward a group of boys and girls, in the hope of changing partners? ____

4. If a boy stands you up on a date, do you:

(a) announce to all that you’re through with him? ____
(b) blow your top privately next time you meet? ____
(c) wait for his explanation, and then keep quiet about the whole thing? ____

5. If your small brother parks in the living room when you have a date, do you:

(a) attempt to dislodge him by looking daggers at him? ____
(b) throw him out boldly? ____
(c) suggest something interesting for him to do? ____

6. At a movie, if you see two vacant seats do you:

(a) rush toward them, letting your date follow? ____
(b) point out the seats and start down the aisle? ____
(c) wait for him to notice the seats and lead you to them? ____

7. At a soda fountain with your date, do you:

(a) look around to see who else is there so he won’t be bored? ____
(b) keep checking your appearance in the mirror? ____
(c) listen to what your date has to say? ____

8. If your mother doesn’t like the looks of a boy you date, do you:

(a) meet him at the corner drugstore? ____
(b) stop seeing him without an explanation? ____
(c) ask your mother if you may invite him over so she can get to know him? ____

9. If your date is picking you up in his car, do you:

(a) wait until he honks and then rush out? ____
(b) wait until he rings your doorbell, then go out? ____
(c) ask him in to meet your parents? ____

10. When you go out with a new boy, do you:

(a) tell him about the other boys you date? ____
(b) fill him in on the latest school gossip? ____
(c) get him to talk about himself? ____

According to the book, “The answers: (c) in every case. How did you do?”

Ida did quite well, but not perfectly. Seems she has some brushing up to do. She answered ~
1: (c), 2: (b), 3: (b), 4: (c), 5: (c), 6: (c), 7: (c), 8: (c), 9: (c), 10: (c)

I failed miserably (but I feel quite proud of myself) ~
1: (a), 2: (b), 3: (I’m not quite sure what this question means!), 4: (a), 5: (b), 6: (a), 7: (sorry, none of the above), 8: (a), 9: (b), 10: (a)

Source: Thomas, Kay. Secrets of Loveliness. New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1969.
~ pp. 16-18 ~