Dear Mrs. Griggs': Women Readers Pour Out Their Hearts From The Heartland

Before Dear Abby or Ann Landers, an advice columnist beloved as Dear Mrs. Griggs already had dispensed wisdom to millions of readers for decades. Indeed, the iconic Ione Quinby Griggs became legendary for her longevity of more than half a century in the advice industry, because she colluded with her columns readers by empowering them to set the agenda of their page, the back page of the newspaper. Their letters often foreshadowed front-page news as well as modern social media in the collaboration that created a forerunner in their more sociable media. A form of community forum, the column provides a literal mother lode for research into her readers' letters on their daily lives and everyday concerns, in their own and often colorful words. The result is a unique social history of a region, a class, and a gender rarely represented in histories: Generations of Midwestern women in a working-class city, as well as surrounding rural areas that soon became suburbs, where daily reading of Dear Mrs. Griggs became one of the continuities in their lives, amid major societal conflicts and controversies in the mid-twentieth century. Readers of Dear Mrs. Griggs made their back page the best-read page of the newspaper for decades. From the Depressions depths in the 1930s into new workplaces for women on the wartime homefront in the 1940s, from urban ethnic enclaves to homes of their own and spiked kaffeeklatsches in new postwar suburbs in the 1950s, from the modern women's movement in the 1960s and 1970s into the conservative revolution of the 1980s, her faithful readers across the Heartland penned heartfelt and sometimes hilarious letters on their issues in their times.