Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » She Had a Question, 1918

She Had a Question, 1918

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 23, 2009

What occupied the minds of the girls and young women writing for advice to the “Girl Queries” department of the 1918 Young Woman’s Journal? The ongoing war, their own looks, soldiers, and young men generally.

I am trying to economize by making my own dresses; cannot get my skirts even around the bottom, with no one to help me. Can you? – Julia W.

Sew the skirt to the waist band, then slip on and stand by a table that comes below the hips; and place pins around the skirt even with the table. Now make the length below the pins the same all the way round. Your skirt will be even at hem.


When a recipe calls for butter, can oleo or butterine be substituted? – Enquirer.

Butterine can be used for most any dish where butter is called for. In the making of oleo or butterine the products are heated and sterilized which insures absolute cleanliness. If one were to visit the factory where these products are made they would notice the care and cleanliness observed in their manufacture. The prejudice against them is gradually passing.


“Miss Doris.” – When taking a long trip on the train, alcohol diluted one-half with water is splendid to cleanse the face. It is much more refreshing than cold cream.


“Beth.” – If your bishop does not object, the propositions to which you refer seem all right. The last night of a fair or bazaar we often have a “sale” of articles left over. Raffling is not approved by the Church.


“Genevieve.” – “S.O.S.” is the wireless signal used by ships at sea when in distress. No doubt the selection was made because of the easy combination to remember, and send; also being quickly recognized by the receiver. It consists of three dots, three dashes, and three dots.


“Rosebud.” – There are numerous causes for wrinkles appearing early in life. The effect of the disposition in the formation of wrinkles is very marked. A sunny and lively temperament is the best preventive, while a fretful, discontented nature, develops them. Active circulation of the blood, the skin performing its work properly, and avoidance of constipation – all help to fight the intruder, while if the machinery of the body becomes clogged, the opportunity for the deadly wrinkle to appear, is certain. for wrinkles on the forehead, massage with a good skin food, using an upward stroke, because the contraction of the skin in that direction will effect the expansion which produced them. In treating the face a gentle, yet firm touch is necessary, and the tips of the forefinger or ring finger, and thumb, are used.


“Mutual Girls.” – There are so many entertaining games for evening socials which far surpass the one you mention. Do not introduce the “board” in your home. A sort of depressing influence seems to come with it, detracting from one’s enjoyment.


“Cassie.” – After returning from the dance or theatre it is entirely too late to invite a young man in. Girls of 17 should retire as soon as possible after 10 p.m.


“Madie.” – No, dear, I could not advise you against the wishes of your parents. A girl of 15 should listen to her parents and try to please them. Their only desire is to make of you a beautiful loving woman, one of whom they will be very proud some day. Never go out clandestinely with young men. It is very bad form, cheapens a girl, makes her lose her self-respect, and that of all well-bred people.


“Julia.” – We could not possibly encourage, much less advise, one of our girls to marry outside her own faith. The teaching and rule of most churches, like our own, is: “Marry in your own religion.” You will be much happier for it.


Please tell me how to clean photographs that have become soiled. – Myrtle.

Wash the photographs with a soft cloth or sponge dipped in cold water. Place between large, clean blotters, and dry under a weight so they will not warp.


“M.R.” – Send your soldier friend your photograph, a small money order, and a cheery letter, telling him to purchase something which he really needs, and to think of you. This is much better than a larger present that would take more space in transit.


“Volunteer.” – The Government is in need of women experts, as typists, draftsmen, stenographers, assistants to business managers, lady clerks, etc., for which a salary is paid. To find out about these positions, apply to the civil service examiner in your home town or to the one nearest to you.


I would like to become a nurse. What qualifications and education is required. – Margaret.

The Department of Nursing of the American National Red Cross is now in need of 30,000 nurses. As these nurses are withdrawn from hospitals, and their present work in civil life, others will have to take their places. There is a call now from the Department of Nursing, to the young women of America to enter the nursing profession. This call to the women to enter training to be nurses, is just as important as the call to our boys to be soldiers. It takes at least two years, and often three, to prepare a young woman for the nursing profession. She must have physical and mental health, as well as a desire for a useful career. Good health is absolutely necessary. One without such should not think of taking the course. the training and work are both strenuous and hard, requiring an amount of nervous energy, sympathy, and cheerfulness, which can only be supplied from a sound, healthy body. A nurse must not be less than nineteen, nor more than thirty-five years of age. She must have a high-school education or its equivalent. The broader and higher the educational qualifications, the more advantageous to her nursing course, and the better equipped will she be for her chosen profession. For further particulars, as also circulars, write Supt. Nurses, L.D.S. Hospital, Salt Lake City; or, to the committee on Nursing of the Council of National Defense, Washington, D.C.


“Janet.” – The word “dear” by way of letter writing or greeting is customary in formal address, and does not necessarily carry any loving regard, although the same word is used to express tender affection.


“Chelta.” – The service pin with one or more stars is worn only by those who have one or more members of the immediate family in service. Cousins or more distant relatives are not included.


“Juvenile Teacher.” – It must be rather hard to amuse your class during the summer months. Why not write a little playlet and stage it out under the trees? Or get “Books of Plays for Little Actors,” by Johnston and Barnum, and stage some of these. “Sandman Stories” read aloud to children would interest them.


What do the different colored cords on the soldier’s hats stand for? – Georgia.

The red cord is the artillery; blue, infantry; yellow, cavalry. To your second query, a girl of 17 should not “go out” more than two nights a week, and then with the consent of her mother, returning not later than 11 o’clock.


In the State of Utah during the war, are girls under 16 allowed to work in factories, laundries, etc., and are women and girls allowed to work more than nine hours per day? – One of the Workers.

No, the law in regard to the labor of women does not change “during the war.” It is most important that the health of girls and women should be conserved now, as it always should have been.

Girls under 16 are not fully developed, therefore it is quite harmful for them to strain their energy, overtax their nerves, and engage in work such as the laundries, factories, etc., require of their employees. Then again, the moral atmosphere is often objectionable to girls of this tender age.

Nine hours continuous work away from home is all that any woman should be required to give, as her health must be conserved for the good of the race. Woman should do nothing that would seriously affect child-bearing.


Can you give me a suggestion to prevent my ball of yarn from rolling all over the floor when knitting? – Soldier’s Mother.

I am glad to help you. Take a square of smooth tissue paper the size of a handkerchief, and place the ball of yarn in center of square; bringing the four corners of the square together and pin them. Now pin this to your apron, and the ball will roll smoothly and not catch or stick. Be sure and give room to the ball in the square, so it can turn loosely.


“Melissa.” – When in doubt as to the character of a young man, do not encourage or go out with him. The safest plan is to take the advice of your mother. When mother says “no,” do not insist upon having your own way.


“Ivy.” – There is no legal ban to the marriage of third cousins.


“Doris.” – Although unacquainted, the parents of the bride should send a cordial letter of invitation to the bridegroom’s parents.


“Violet.” – A course in physical culture, and regular swimming lessons for several months would benefit you greatly. Pay more attention to your diet, take regular out-door exercise and bathe the whole body daily. Massage the face with cocoa butter, which being a good skin food ought to help you some. Do not worry about your looks, only so far as to create a desire within you to keep the body and mind clean, and to live a wholesome, active life.



  1. Love these!
    I also fully agree thatyou not bring the evil influences of the “board” into the home. There are plenty more exciting activities other than ironing.

    Comment by TStevens — April 23, 2009 @ 7:23 am

  2. RE: Rosebud.
    Active circulation of the blood, the skin performing its work properly, and avoidance of constipation – all help to fight the intruder, while if the machinery of the body becomes clogged, the opportunity for the deadly wrinkle to appear, is certain.

    Who’d have thought that “avoiding constipation” would get rid of wrinkles. I could just see the laxitive advertisements now…

    Comment by Steve C. — April 23, 2009 @ 7:44 am

  3. Oui!Ja! Couldn’t agree with you more, TStevens!

    Steve C., one of these days Real Soon Now I’ll type up the Young Woman’s Journal article entitled simply “Constipation.” Like the fly abatement articles, this is a topic I just can’t imagine the New Era handling under any number of heavy layers of euphemism, yet it was such a serious concern early in the 20th century. Go figure. Or, rather, just go.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 23, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  4. Oleo (margarine) I had heard of, but not Butterine, though I can guess what it was.

    In addition to the questions on constipation, there seem to be a few on how to travel well. And lots on dating (surprise!!)

    I’m realizing that both my grandmothers would have been young women at the time this came out. It is fun to imagine them reading the very same advice. For one of them, I have letters she wrote to her future husband (my grandfather) and I can see the same “dating” questions going through her head. Wonderfully fascinating! Thanks

    Comment by Bruce Crow — April 23, 2009 @ 8:20 am

  5. My grandmother, born in 1898, was married in 1920, so like you, Bruce, I picture her wondering about the same issues and reading this advice. Since I only really knew her from her late 60s to her late 80s, the idea of Grandma — Grandma! — mooning over soldiers or wondering what games to play at a party is something I can hardly get my head around.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 23, 2009 @ 8:35 am

  6. I thought it was the evil of the ironing board.

    Lucky for me but my late Grandmother “mooned” over a soldier a little too much while her husband was away. Otherwise, by extension, I wouldn’t be here today.

    Comment by TStevens — April 23, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  7. Ardis:

    As always, these are wonderful; as the father of three daughters, three step-daughters, and two “semi-adopted” daughters, all now grown on and on their own, I think a lot of this advice would serve well a lot of teenage girls today. Of course, I can see all eight girls rolling their eyes at such a suggestion…. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — April 23, 2009 @ 11:19 am

  8. Yes, I loved these. Some of the answers made me cringe and feel sad (viz., stating that wrinkles are caused by a discontented personality), other answers made me chuckle, while many made me nod my head in agreement. Beyond the subject matter, I found the tone of the writer to be superb: charitable, very matter-of-fact, and yet not condescending.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Comment by Hunter — April 23, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  9. I’m glad you’re still enjoying these. I try to pick out entries that are different from what has appeared in earlier posts — or else that are so much the same that it’s comical how people continue to fret over the same questions. I don’t know which end of that spectrum I enjoy most!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 23, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  10. I think the answerer is on the wrong side of history with the oleo answer. =) Not to mention the health issues, butter makes much better cakes.

    I’m impressed because so many of these answers (hem, wrinkles, photos) are impractical, or else just don’t work. That helps me feel smug and righteous when completely ignoring this sort of advice given today. :)

    Comment by Tatiana — April 23, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

  11. Funny, Tatiana… I thought the hem idea was a very clever way of working around a slightly misshapen figure. If the hips or waist aren’t exactly symmetrical, a straight measurement off of the waistline wouldn’t do; this method sets the measurement to where the skirt falls from the body, not from the waist. Wish I’d heard it long ago.

    Comment by Coffinberry — April 23, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

  12. Is this more personalized than other ones we’ve seen before? Seems that there’s a lot more answering of individual concerns in this installment. Delightful as always.

    Comment by jeans — April 24, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

  13. jeans, this is a later set of responses than the others we’ve looked at (I think it’s the last year the column was published), so the style may have evolved with experience.

    Glad you like ’em. I’ll eventually post selections from other years.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 24, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

  14. Ardis,

    I was invited to teach young women’s last week (I am EQP and they wanted me to teach about the Priesthood – I am not sure why). Anyways I got done a few minutes early and shared with them a few of the “She had a questions.” It was a big hit and a few of them are now going to repent of taking pictures with young men one on one while not married.

    Comment by TStevens — May 6, 2009 @ 6:58 am

  15. As well they should, T! (I’m glad your girls got a kick out of these … although maybe the YWJ‘s editors wouldn’t have approved of their laughter!)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 6, 2009 @ 7:17 am

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