Dear Abby is a trusted source of practical and compassionate advice that has been helping people all over the world for over six decades. The column offers advice on a wide range of topics, including relationships, family, work, and personal problems. Here’s a breakdown of the Dear Abby column, who is the real Abby and the column’s impact on readers, explained.

How Dear Abby works

In 1956, Dear Abby started as a local column in the San Francisco Chronicle, but quickly gained popularity. The column was soon syndicated in newspapers across the United States and abroad. 

Dear Abby advice column
Image courtesy of CNN

Dear Abby operates by offering advice to people who write in with their problems or questions. The letters are typically sent into the Dear Abby column and are selected for publication based on their relevance, interest, and overall quality.

Once a letter is selected, the Dear Abby team provides a thoughtful and compassionate response. The response offers practical advice on how to address the issue at hand.

Who is Abby?

A major factor that has contributed to the success of Dear Abby is the authenticity of its author, Pauline Phillips better known as Abigail Van Buren

  • Abigail Van Buren’s approach to advice was compassionate, non-judgmental, and always based on the needs of the individual. This connects with the readers on a personal level. 
  • Pauline Phillips was a strong advocate for LGBT rights, and she wrote about these issues in her column long before it was widely accepted. 

Mom just sent me this. Dear Abby put this lady in her place. from lgbt

  • Despite her death in 2013, the column continues to be published under the supervision of her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who carries on her mother’s legacy.

Why is it popular

One of the reasons why Dear Abby is so popular today is because the column provides practical, down-to-earth advice that is easy to understand and follow. The advice is based on common sense, compassion, and simplicity.

For example, let’s say you’re having trouble communicating with your spouse. In this case, Dear Abby might suggest taking the time to listen to your spouse’s perspective, expressing your own feelings in a calm and respectful manner, and finding common ground to work things out.

Major newspapers

  • The Dear Abby column is published in newspapers and on websites all over the world, and it is accessible to everyone.
  • Some of the most notable newspapers that featured the Dear Abby column include the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and the New York Daily News.
Image courtesy of Gibson Family History

Interestingly, Pauline’s twin sister, Eppie Lederer, also wrote an advice column under the pen name Ann Landers. The two sisters thrived on their friendly rivalry and their competing advice columns.

Although other forms of advice and information dominate the internet, Dear Abby shall always remain an important part of American cultural history.

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SOURCES: UExpress, Jewish Women’s Archive