Thursday, April 5, 2012

Your Power as a Woman (1957)

Look! What! I! Found!

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Is this real life? Am I really going to get to read a woman's self-help book published by the Hazel Bishop makeup company in 1957? If that cat wore pajamas, these would be they. The back cover has already promised me I'll be able to lose weight, get/keep a man, have lovely skin, be popular, age gracefully, and wear the right clothes... has someone been reading my dream journal?

Fresh from Open Library's bajillion strong online book selections, I bring you Alma Archer's 1957 treatise on midcentury womanhood, entitled Your Power as a Woman. I haven't read enough of it to start discussing it with you guys, but as I work my way through essentially seems to be essentially a"be-Betty-Draper" manual, you'd better believe I'll tell you what kind of tips and tricks I take with me!

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Alma Archer draws her credentials as a woman-advisor from several different fields, some of which she touches upon her introduction (above). From her LA Times obituary:

"[Archer] landed her first fashion job in Los Angeles in the early 1920s designing custom-made Cadillacs and moved to New York in 1924 where she ran a charm school on Fifth Avenue and became a columnist. Highlights of her career included interviewing Adolf Hitler, drinking with Ernest Hemingway in Paris and sailing south of France with James Joyce. "

She also seems to have been present at the initial conception of "Superman" (?!). Nice work if you can get it! And now she'll tell us how, hopefully. Below, you'll find the table of contents. Which chapter are you most interested in? I always most look forward to clothes and etiquette, but you'd never have guessed that from knowing me, right? :)

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The second chapter begins with an aptitude test. People, if I had the knowledge, I wouldn't need the book, now would I? Yet, the reader is respectfully asked to submit to the following questions, complete with a "don't worry if you don't succeed" caveat at the beginning:


And then the actual questions. Everything from etiquette, personal habits, style of dress, voice, manner...I mean, if I can answer "yes" to all these questions at the end, I will be doing all right for myself!


But.... with the aid of the book, there's hope yet, right?

I'm going to honestly read every page of this guy and get back to you all with the results next week. Now, how will that be?

How about you? Do you go in much for the self-help/etiquette manual genre, or are you a manners and habits renegade, boldly forging a path on your own and learning as you go along? Do you have any vintage how-to-live books like this in your collection? And do you think they're more hilarious or more useful towards living an authentic vintage life? Let a girl know!

Til next time.


  1. Wow, this is hardcore. I wonder if some of this etiquette was made up by the author, just to sell the importance of the subject matter. ;)

  2. Oh gosh, just from what I read, I get the feeling that I'm not really a woman. I loooooove books like these. I love laughing at them but at the same time, you can get some good tips from them.

  3. It certainly is a capsule in time! I love reading these themed books in the present day. They are like photographs, not capturing images, but ideals of how to be, and if you are not, there's hope. Fast forward to 2012. So much of the same: chasing perfection. Take my latest copy of "Whole Living" magazine: The Latest Wrinkle- to fill or not to fill? See? Great post Lisa! This material is so fun to read.

  4. that quiz scares me! how does one adjust day make up for the artificial lights at night! i didn't even know that was a worry!

  5. Brilliant! Can't wait to read your post once you've read it all. I'm particularly looking forward to "Your Social Graces" and "Mannering a Lady"...



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