Dear Beatrice: Girls Gone Wild (1916 Version)

In 1898 Marie Manning, a columnist for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Evening Journal, began writing “Dear Beatrice Fairfax,” the world’s first column offering advice to the lovelorn. The Fort Worth Telegram and its successor, the Star-Telegram, ran the syndicated column from 1903 to 1922. Through the years the column went through changes of title and format but retained the level-headed perspective that would later be carried on by “Dear Abby” and “Ask Ann Landers.” 

The letters written by advice seekers and the replies given by Beatrice Fairfax reveal social conventions, fashions, and other aspects of everyday life in the early twentieth century.

For example, in the column below, from September 27, 1916, Beatrice bemoaned the “girls gone wild” of summertime: spooning on park benches and streetcar seats, wearing bathing suits cut well above the knee, and flirting with wolves in blue-serge sheep’s clothing. Mercy!

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2 Responses to Dear Beatrice: Girls Gone Wild (1916 Version)

  1. ramiro garza says:

    hate to admit it, but I will have to look up blue serge. otherwise, I agree with her, bunch of hussies on the beach

    • hometown says:

      I would not recognize serge, blue or otherwise. Fashions change, but the fabric for those fashions can stick around a long time. As a kid I read a biography of William Randolph Hearst and was surprised to see a photo of him wearing a glen-plaid coat in about 1880. Until I saw that I thought glen plaid was a modern pattern. But I guess it’s been around since the MacGregors were a-feuding with the Campbells.

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