Very old and very new books

Two things have come together in my mind in this most amazing way.

First, I have an office space all of my very own! My excitement about this is hard to overstate. And so that you can join me in this, here’s a picture:


As I moved all of my office things from my living room into my office, I spent some time looking over a few of the more precious items. Most relevant to this particular post are two little books that I inherited from my great-grandmother:

These two books are part of a series called Self and Sex Series:

The full series includes advice about what one ought to know in the following categories:

  • a Young Girl / Boy
  • a Young Woman / Man
  • a Woman / Man at Forty-five

And the price listed in the book is $1 each.

The husband version was published in 1897 and the wife version in 1901. A few exerpts, at random:

Before a ship sales from port with its valuable cargo of goods and its priceless feightage of life, they do what is called “boxing the compass.” Naturally the compass would point to the true north, but because the character of the cargo the needle may be diverted from the true north. To discover whether such local influences exhist, they test and correct the compass. The deviation from the true north might be very slight, and in a very short voyage the error might not result in serious consequences, but the interests involved are too momentous to permit of any risk. Before entering upon the new boyage of married life it is eessential, for the prutiy and saftey of the two who enter upon it, and also fr the well-being of the other lives which may subsequently be added to the family, that the principles by which husband and wife are to be guided should be carefully examined, that errors may be discovered and corrected, for the wrecking of a ship is of less moment than the wrecking of human lives, for these involve not only temporal, but eternal destinies.

– What A Young Husband Ought to Know, pg. 74, from Chapter V, “The Physical cost of Procreation”

But no pressure.

What shall be the ruling characterstics of the man I shall marry? is the question that every young girl has answered long before she may be conscious of it herself. As one and another of her acquaintances marry, she mentally confludes that this and that trait which the new bridegroom possesses would not do at all were she the bride. And so year after year the mental, moral, and physical make-up of the man she is to marry, grows into completeness, as this imagineary being is shaped to her liking.

– What A Young Wife Ought to Know, pg 62, from Chapter V, “The Choice of a Husband”

I mostly love these books because they came from my family, but I do have a penchant for collecting old books relevant to the sex ed world in one way or another.

Which brings me to the second thing on my mind today: My book for older teen girls that will be published this summer! It is called GIRL: Love, sex, romance, and being you. And I have tiny preview of the cover:


I’m so excited about this book it’s hard for me to sit still. It will be out mid-summer, which means that I’m currently putting together my list of people to write blurbies lauding the book. Blurbies are on my mind a lot right now, so of course, I looked in the Self and Sex Series books to see what their blurbies say!


First, how much do love it that the blurbies are titled WHAT EMINENT PEOPLE IN AMERICA SAY? I love it SO FREAKING MUCH.


Second, the language in these recommendations is all too much for me. I love it and it makes me laugh and I’m considering asking my blurbie writers to do this thing for me in Victorian English. (Not really. But how wonderful would that actually be??)

Third, there are no blurbies for the book about young wives. And why not, I wonder? Was the series just no longer doing these by 1901? Was no one willing to recommend it because it was too liberal? Too conservative? I have so many questions, and likely no answers.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.