Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » She Had a Question, 1916

She Had a Question, 1916

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 18, 2009

Large ankles, green vegetables, and ragtime music — is any problem too difficult for the “Girl Query” department of the Young Woman’s Journal to handle? Not at all! Catherine Hurst bravely faces the concerns of girls and young women in 1916:

To “Imogene” who writes of her unpopularity among the boys because she will not allow familiarity.

“Familiarity breeds contempt” is verily true. To be popular a girl must be friendly, agreeable to all, willing to do her best, not claiming her own will, but ready and desirous to please in the proper manner. If you could get the girls together, and influence them to plan a crusade upon all foolishness and undue familiarity with the opposite sex, the boys would soon realize how they should conduct themselves when in company with girls.

Girls can do much to purify and uplift their boy friends. When young men understand the girls’ attitude, if they be boys worthy of friendship, their respect for the modest, refined, virtuous girl will increase.

A young man would be foolish indeed to choose a wife from among the coarse, rude, or immodest girls, What kind of a mother would she make?


When a woman marries in Utah, if she own property, does the husband become joint owner? – Miss Elsie.

A married woman in Utah has practically the same rights to contract, hold, or control property, and transact business, as an unmarried woman. Marriage does not give the husband any right over, or interest in, his wife’s property.


“Mrs. E.M.” – To clean your carpet sweeper brush, buy a cheap wire hair brush, for ten or fifteen cents, and it will save your hands.


My ankles are very large. How can I reduce them? – Nancy.

Always wear high laced shoes, and avoid standing too much. You need exercise for all the muscles of the body, so as to become well proportioned.


Is laughter an aid to digestion? Some people talk of it lightly. – Iris.

Yes, the condition of the mind has much to do with digestion. “A sour disposition makes a sour stomach.” Cheerfulness at meal time is essential to good digestion. Make the hour for eating the most pleasant one of the day. Do not indulge in unpleasant discussions, nor permit personalities during the meal. Do not talk of food values and diet. Let your conversation be pleasant and agreeable.


“Mrs. T.L.” – I could not quote prices without seeing the articles. The best way to sell your knit wool shawls is to let your friends in the city know of the opportunity and most likely you will find a ready sale.


“Curly Locks.” – It were better at your age to go with the “crowd,” rather than with a boy alone. To whiten your hands use the following lotion: Four ounces of rose water, one-half ounce of pulverized borax, one-half ounce of glycerine, and one-half drachm of tincture benzoin. Wash the hands carefully, dry well, and rub in just a few drops of the lotion. Once a day is often enough to use it.


“Mary”: A white wedding dress is always to be chosen if one has a reception. If you are going away immediately after the ceremony, then a traveling costume is in good style. You will need a plain, pretty white dress for the Temple.


Will you kindly print in the “Journal” what you mean by “green vegetables”? – Sue and Maud.

By green vegetables are meant, green peas, corn, beans, spinach, lettuce, celery, cabbage, cauliflower squash, egg-plant, cucumbers, onions, asparagus, tomatoes, watercress, radishes, and rhubarb. These vegetables should be perfectly ripe and fresh, also masticated well to insure the proper nutriment and benefit.


When a lady is traveling alone in a strange city, how can she know the proper hotel for her to stay alone? – Martha.

Go to one of the best hotels in your home town before you start, and tell the man at the desk where you are going, what type of hotel you would like to be directed to, etc. He will, at your expense, of course, telegraph ahead and engage a room for you. Hotels are always willing to give such information, as they are in close touch with one another and extend courtesies, which are generally returned.


Must a widow have “Mrs.” before her name in the announcement of her second marriage? – Margaret M.

Yes, this prefix must be used so that the surname of the bride’s first husband may not be mistaken for her maiden name.


“Viola.” A girl of seventeen cannot marry without the consent of her parents.


Most of my friends call me “Bessie.” Should I have this name on my visiting card? – Enquirer.

No. A certain amount of formality is attached to the engraving on visiting cards. Have your given name on the cards.


“J.Z.B.” – Girls should not use paint on the face, as often pimples and skin disorders result therefrom; also it is very bad form, indicating lack of refinement.


Why is ragtime music condemned? Is it written with the aim in view of suggesting evil, and does it to the average person? – Pansy.

I quote from Walter Damrosch, conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra: “Ragtime is like the weeds that grow up around the flower, hindering its growth and even threatening its very existence. America’s musical future is largely in the hands of parents who should censor the music of their children, just as they do their literature. They wouldn’t think of letting their boys and girls read anything vile or even silly. Yet they listen to their children sing vile and vulgar words set to ragtime. Or if not vile and vulgar, it is liable to be insipid and inane. Why should this be when there is so much good music they could sing? Ragtime music is amusing and catchy, but should never be the steady diet of children, whose future appreciation of music depends on the kind of music they hear. There is an instinct for good music in every child and the good will always triumph over the bad if fostered and encouraged.”


“Genevieve.” – No, a guest should not use the knife to cut cake. If the cake is of the soft layer variety, use a fork. If loaf or sponge cake, small portions should be broken with the fingers the same as bread.


“Young Housewife.” – Place two or three lumps of charcoal as large as an egg in the ice chest, changing two or three times a month. This will absorb the odor of cooked food and the like. When the ice is exhausted wipe out the ice box, and pour a strong solution of sal soda through the waste pipe to cleanse and disinfect it. All foods should be kept covered as much as possible.


“N.C.P.” – To your first query, I would suggest you consult your bishop. (2) In business life men and women affiliate as business people only; nothing more, nothing less.


“June.” – At an entertainment where dancing is to be part of the evening’s program, the hostess should be the one to introduce her guests. In introducing a gentleman to a lady, she should first ascertain whether the lady wishes to dance, thus saving the gentleman the embarrassment of a refusal.



  1. Wow, things of which I never dreamed. Corn is a green vegetable and one should break up cake as though it were bread.

    Since I’m our resident strident feminist keepapitchininny, I’ll also point out that it’s not girls’ responsibility to purify and uplift their boy friends any more than it’s boys’ responsibility to purify and uplift their girl friends. =) (Strives for utmost stridency.)

    “If you could get the girls together, and influence them to plan a crusade upon all foolishness and undue familiarity with the opposite sex, the boys would soon realize how they should conduct themselves when in company with girls.”

    Again, this makes the boys’ behavior the girls’ responsibility. And the problem with girl-gangs, (think of the gulabi gang), (or the one we call polite society), is that there’s always a few defectors who consort with the enemy and hence have more freedom. Being an insider in the dominant girl gang is advantageous if you can take the stifling conformity required. Many simply can’t. Still, the reason two girls can outnumber any number of boys is because they’re able to gang up and require all the boys to sue for admittance one by one, in competition to each other. Part of the deal is that they also have to convince everyone their company is the highest quality.

    Comment by Tatiana — June 18, 2009 @ 6:41 am

  2. Wow. Now “She Had a Question” is dishing out legal advice.

    Marriage does not give the husband any right over, or interest in, his wife’s property.

    Anyone know whether that was the case in 1916? It sounds awfully fishy.

    (If anyone knew the answer to that question, it would probably be Kathryn Daynes.)

    Comment by Researcher — June 18, 2009 @ 7:09 am

  3. Love these. The two that struck me were: the criticism against a certain dangerous societal ill: ragtime music! Reminds me of Lex de Azevedo’s criticizing certain pop music of the 1980s for having too “African” of a beat; and, the one about the lengthy and pricey process of securing a safe hotel. Man! If they could see the ease of obtaining lodging now through the use of internet tools, these folks would probably be amazed.

    Comment by Hunter — June 18, 2009 @ 7:31 am

  4. Tatiana, I’m going to be strident right back.

    One of the many serious problems with feminist theory is that it demands all the benefits of independence (“I have the inalienble right to live the way I choose and ain’t nobody gonna stop me”) while rejecting all the responsibility of communal life (“It’s not my responsibility what you do or don’t do, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my own choices.”)

    In Zion, though, we watch out for each other. Girls *do* set good examples for each other, and teach the boys what is expected by their own behavior. Boys *do* keep each other in line and don’t push the girls to do things they shouldn’t. We uplift each other by moral behavior, we “watch over the church always, and be with them and strengthen them”; we “see there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other”; we “instruct and edify each other that [we] know how to act”; we “speak one with another concerning the welfare of [our] souls”; we are “every one members one of another”; we are “likeminded one toward another”; we strive to be “full of full of all goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another”; we “impart the word of God, one with another”; we “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom”; we “teach one another words of wisdom”; we “learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.”

    To the extent that feminism teaches us not to be good examples, not to teach each other what is right, not to encourage each other to do right, to that extent feminism is of the devil.

    But you’re still one of my favorite Keepa’ninnies and I hope you’re not too offended that I dish back what you throw at me. Don’t let feminism convince you that you can’t — or worse, shouldn’t — have a duty to help your brothers and sisters find their way back to God.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 18, 2009 @ 7:57 am

  5. Ragtime is like the weeds that grow up around the flower, hindering its growth and even threatening its very existence. America’s musical future is largely in the hands of parents who should censor the music of their children, just as they do their literature.


    Ragtime could easily lead to jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, and rock and roll, America’s roots musical heritage.

    Much as I don’t care for my kids fascination with Radiohead, conversely they haven’t cared much for some of my choices. I’ve tried to give them an exposure to a little bit of everything musical, which includes subjecting them to the soundtrack to Les Miserables on vacation, along with Etta James, Willy Dixon, Lightning Hopkins, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; Sibelius, Stravisnky, Herbie Hancock, Poco, Duke Ellington, Eric Clapton, and on and on. What I have tried to do as well, is to not mistake these folks for role models.

    Comment by kevinf — June 18, 2009 @ 9:54 am

  6. “Stravinsky”

    Spelling FAIL

    Comment by kevinf — June 18, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  7. Because I have a daughter, I feel for what Tatiana has said. I do not want her feeling she has the “responsibility to purify and uplift [her future] boy friends.” I want to her to find one that has already been purified and uplifted, hopefully by his parents and the community in which he lived.

    But since she is still a teenager, and has much to learn, she still needs to learn to be part of that community that helps “purify and uplift.” The two are not in conflict in my mind, though they might be in hers.

    Making ourselves responsible as a community for the betterment of the members of the community is good. Making her responsible for saving the lowlife teenage boy who want to date her is not.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — June 18, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  8. Thanks for this, I am especially pleased to have read the bit on ragtime. I have kept a file on music and dance and figured one day I might pull something together. And while I have read small bits against ragtime, they aren’t as common as, for example, the warnings against round dancing. This is very helpful.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 18, 2009 @ 10:16 am

  9. Re: Ragtime

    From an unsigned Deseret Evening News editorial, 1 September 1913:

    Girls with the bloom of youth still on their faces, youths who still carry their heads erect on square shoulders forgot their future, forgot that virtue has its outward sign, forgot that lasting joy must be pure and clean. They abandoned themselves to the reign of the mad ragtime music, a demon in beguiling garb who prepares the way for one more artful, and from whose snare there is no escape. It was plain to be seen that in the crowd there were hundreds who are at home in sinful pastures; others were only lacking the lure to evil; others were thoughtless boys and girls who were drawn to the scene by the magnet of enticing speculation, unmindful of what might come of yielding. Standing on the threshold of the Palace of Error, the temptation to enter may have been too alluring for some to resist and it is not unlikely that Sin embraced Innocence and they sped through the riotous whirl of the licentious revel.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 18, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  10. A quick search for “ragtime” on, revealed this horrible sinful endeavor, performed by licentious young people.

    from New Era, July, 1983:
    A Night of Music
    by Robert Mowers
    It was called “Music through the Ages,” although it wasn’t broadcast by either radio or television. The public address system at the Augusta Maine Stake Center “broadcast” the fun to a large and appreciative audience that jammed the center’s newly built auditorium. The youth of the stake provided entertainment indulging in music from the days of ragtime and the Roaring 20s to such offerings as homespun country songs, European imports, crying gypsy violins, and good old summertime harmonies of a barbershop quartet.
    The light of joy and talent shining from the Augusta Maine Stake Center stage seemed to illuminate the entire building. As the evening drew to a close, performers and audience alike joined as brothers and sisters in singing “God Be with You.”

    Comment by Mel — June 18, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  11. A quick trip through googleland turns up a book entitled Women and Gender in the American West, which contains a reference to An Act Concerning the Property Rights of Married Persons, enacted 16 February 1872, and published in 1876 Compiled Laws of Utah 342.

    The note goes on to say that from nearly 20 years earlier, when the right of dower (and curtesy, I presume, although this source is silent–those are rights of a spouse to a share of his or her deceased spouse’s estate) was implicitly abolished in an 1854 Utah statute, an equitable right of a married woman to a separate estate was recognized by the Utah courts from an early date (compared to the rest of the common law world).

    So, I think the Young Women’s Journal had it right.

    By the way, even England adopted the Married Women’s Property Act in 1882, so there were a lot of places less enlightened than Utah that had recognized a married woman’s right to separate property by the time the Young Women’s Journal gave this answer.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 18, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  12. “J.Z.B.” – Girls should not use paint on the face, as often pimples and skin disorders result therefrom; also it is very bad form, indicating lack of refinement.

    I guess I need to get rid of all those half used cans of Sears Weatherbeater and Sherwin Williams down in the garage. I wouldn’t want my daughter, Pet Sematary, to get the wrong idea.

    Comment by kevinf — June 18, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

  13. Ardis, I understand why you took my statement to mean neither boys nor girls have any responsibility for the purity, etc. of the other, but I actually meant both sides have equal responsibility to each other. I almost put in a parenthetical comment saying just that, but decided it was too wordy. So yes I agree that girls and boys have an equal responsibility to encourage and exhort each other to purity, etc. But they don’t bear responsibility for each other’s actions. Each are moral agents unto themselves, and though others can persuade, they can’t do more. So I think we’re in perfect agreement on this point.

    In our society, though, you never hear the boys being made responsible for girls’ virtue, only the obverse. Don’t you agree that the onus has historically been on girls to uphold boys’ morality and not vice versa? Haven’t girls suffered from bearing the brunt of the blame from any problems from unwanted pregnancy to rape? That’s what I’m trying to point out, as I feel someone must, when these things come up in the study of history.

    Comment by Tatiana — June 18, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

  14. kevinf, Radiohead rules! Seriously, give them a deeper listen. They are amazing musicians.

    Ditty Stravinsky, etc. Did you know that he was radical and outrageous too? After the debut of The Rite of Spring, they say he had to jump from the men’s room window to escape from the angry mob of outraged audience members.

    I think it’s great when the generations expose each other to their music. My son has gotten me liking such diverse music as The Flaming Lips, Bob Dylan, Frank Black, and Nine Inch Nails. In return I’ve gotten him to like Joni Mitchell, Tool, Bach, and several others. It’s win-win.

    Comment by Tatiana — June 18, 2009 @ 7:09 pm

  15. Ditty = Ditto, funny slip. =)

    P.S. I read wikipedia on the Rite of Spring debut in Paris and it said it caused a riot among the audience and multiple fistfights broke out. Also that Stravinsky fled the place in horror. I don’t remember where I heard he had to jump out the window to get away, that’s probably apocryphal.

    But I mean, causing a riot? How awesome is that? I wish I could write music that would affect people so viscerally.

    Comment by Tatiana — June 18, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

  16. Re the property rights of women in Utah, I found this article on the same subject in the February 1910 issue of the Woman’s Exponent.

    Comment by Justin — June 18, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  17. Ardis-

    It’s always a treat to read the blog. Thanks for posting some interesting (and often very entertaining) stuff.

    Comment by Brandon — June 19, 2009 @ 9:42 am

  18. There was almost certainly comparable advice to young men on their obligation to protect and encourage the virtue of young women rather than taking selfish advantage of them. (I say almost because I’m not the historian Ardis is and don’t have her access to the sources). To my knowledge, responsible self-discipline has always been an essential part of the masculine ideal, and the preaching and practice of virtue was (and is) taken as a part of Priesthood responsibility.

    Since this column was addressed specifically to young women, it’s not surprising that it doesn’t speak to the young men.

    One might say that it isn’t girls’ responsibility to purify and uplift their boy friends any *less* than it’s boys’ responsibility to purify and uplift their girl friends.

    Comment by Confutus — June 19, 2009 @ 11:06 am

  19. Thank you, Confutus — You’re right, and I wanted to say exactly what you said (especially your last paragraph) but I thought I’d wait until after next week when the library has reopened and I can quote from exactly the kind of lesson you remember. This is high on my list. Thank you.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 19, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  20. Thanks, Mark B. and Justin, for the information on property rights. It’s been at least ten years since I’ve done any reading on the topic, and I’m starting to forget details like the differences between community property and common law states. Utah is not a community property state, if I remember correctly. One of the only Western states which is not. (And why is that?)

    Comment by Researcher — June 19, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  21. I don’t know, but I blame dem meddlin’ Marmonz for it. I would guess that at least some of the community property states (Louisiana, Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona) inherited the property systems of colonial governments, viz., France, Spain, and Mexico.

    Comment by Justin — June 19, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

  22. Tatiana, I’ve read the same accounts about the Rite of Spring debut performance. Kind of like Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport festival, back in 1963, was it?

    Sorry about the Radiohead, but the more I listen, the less I like. My kids have turned me on to (years ago) Pearl Jam, Green Day, more recently The Shinns, and some others.

    Gets to be a contest to see who’s corrupting who, I think.

    Comment by kevinf — June 19, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

  23. kevinf (22) Yes! I’ve just learned about that episode, and what Dylan’s reaction was. Apparently then a group of fans followed him around from concert to concert just so they could boo him. They were truly upset, apparently. But it’s never a good idea to argue with an artist about their art, since they always get the last word. I think “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and “Positively 4th Street” were both parts of his response to the old folk scene.

    Music history is as much fun as Mormon history, it turns out. =) Wasn’t it awesome that the music mattered so much to everyone back then? That’s the way it feels to me, like music is crucially important to life itself.

    The Shinns is another group my son has exposed me to. I like that song from the “Garden State” soundtrack. Pearl Jam I got from another friend. I think my favorite from them is Yellow Ledbetter, especially the guitar solos and the part around 3:50 that goes “oooooooooh”, you know that part? I played that part over and over about 1000 times once. =)

    Too bad about Radiohead, though. I wish I could explain to you how to like them. Their coolness lies in the time signatures quite often. I first fell for them around the time when “OK, Computer” came out (ages ago), so I’ll recommend from that cd the song Paranoid Android, with its awesome chorus with three bars of sevens then an 8 (or two fours). I also love the alternation between the hard rocking parts and the sweet sad harmonies in the “rain down” part.

    Another great one off OK Computer is “The Tourist”. First of all, it’s in threes, which is delicious after the unvarying fours of most rock music. And even more cool, the musical phrase is in nine bars rather than something normal like eight or four. Unusual numbers of beats per bar and bars per phrase keep the whole thing feeling very lively and a bit disjointed and off-kilter, which is a perfect fit for the meaning of the song. Then the slowness of the beat somehow sets off perfectly the “1000 feet a second”. You can’t forget the cool way “idiot” sounds in British. Then comes the bizarre time thing that happens at the end of each verse phrase where your ear’s expecting two bars of 3 beats per bar and instead gets one bar of four beats. This unpredictable thing happens predictably, once you know the song, and it’s just so delightful. They keep you on your musical toes all the time. I’m always going “Wait. What did they just do? They didn’t!”

    I still can’t figure out the time for Pyramid Song. I just have to listen and enjoy. I can’t sing along.

    But the greatest thing of all about their interesting time things is they work really well viscerally and not just intellectually.

    I think their harmonies are equally cool, but I’m totally self-taught as a musician and I don’t know enough to understand what I’m hearing there. Just that it has the same weird-but-wonderful feeling about it as the time.

    (Sorry for the musical threadjack, Ardis!)

    Anyway, Radiohead is amazing.

    Comment by Tatiana — June 19, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

  24. I also have to recommend The Dead Milkmen for generational bonding. We sing their songs together then we crack up. It’s a great family joy for us.

    Comment by Tatiana — June 19, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  25. … I feel so old …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 19, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

  26. Ardis, I’ve been on vacation, but I think I may be older than you.

    Comment by kevinf — June 24, 2009 @ 12:04 pm