Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Etiquette Books: Part 2

This woman is likely not displaying her best table etiquette in "A Word to the Wise" by C.D. Gibson (1900).
While most etiquette books 100 years ago advised girls and women to be feminine, quiet, attentive and helpful, the books were not of one mind: A few books also expected girls to be smart and hard-working. A rare volume or two advised them to be bold. 
Here's one modern observation from a 1923 etiquette volume*: "There was a time, not so long ago, when a most marked reserve was required between men and women in public. But to-day, with the advent of women into almost every branch of business, art and profession, there is a tendency to loosen this social barrier and create a more friendly relationship between men and women."
While most 1900s advice is amusing to today's girls and women ("Tight clothing spoils the complexion" and "When a girl is. . . in public places, she should never laugh nor talk loudly"), some advice*, even 100 years later, still rings true in 2010: "The young miss of to-day is certainly more thrilled with life and its possibilities than her sister of two or three decades ago ever was. . . . To-day life is shown to her as it is shown to her brother — as something beautiful, something impressive, something worthy of deep thought and ambitious plans."
We can all give thanks for that. Happy Thanksgiving!

* Both quotes from Book of Etiquette, 1923.

1 comment:

  1. So glad we don't have to all that today. I would explode. You see, I am nothing short of a tomboy. Nothing more, nothing less.