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Mrs. Grundy Then and Now: Historical Etiquette Books

Social Science, Philosophy and Religion Department, Central Library,
Describing social etiquette with 3 victorians

“[Women] aren’t supposed to know how much dinner-for-two comes to or how generous your escort tips. So don’t look very interested when the waiter brings the check. It’s his privilege to scan the figures on the bill before paying it. During this little episode you could perhaps be gazing out the window or looking for an imaginary something in your handbag.”
Mind Your Manners by Betty Allen

“Hold all doors for her, just as if she hadn’t a muscle in her body.”
Esquire Etiquette

Our collection of historical etiquette books can offer an interesting glimpse into social customs and modes of thought long past, as demonstrated in the excerpts above. The differences in gender roles and how they were perceived are especially noticeable, but our etiquette books are also filled with a variety of other interesting facts, information and insights. Whether you’re researching social customs to write a book or a screenplay, want to throw an authentic 1950s themed cocktail party, or you simply want a good dose of historical trivia and a chuckle, our collection has something for almost everyone.

Our books span from the mid 1800s to the present and cover such notable eras as the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties and World War II. These books cover etiquette guidelines for topics as common and general as weddings, parties and correspondence to specific situations and activities like being a military spouse, boxing, participating in a Southern cruise, and even “cigaretiquette.”

We have a good selection of circulating items that date as far back as the 1870s, including:

177.9 H332 (1875) Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette by Cecil B. Hartley

177.9 T744 (1939) Gentlemen Behave by Charles Handson Towne

177.9 M158 (1947) The Formal Wedding by Judsom J. McKim

177.9 B6545 (1949) The Entertaining Lady by Vera Bloom

177.9 A425-1 (1950) Behave Yourself! Etiquette for American Youth by Betty Allen

177.9 C725 (1953) What To Do When by Jennifer Colton

177.9 E77 (1953) Esquire Etiquette

177.9 A425-2 (1957) Mind Your Manners by Betty Allen

Even more titles are available in our reference collection. These materials span from the 1850s to the present day:

177.9 T515 (1856) The Lady’s Guide to Perfect Gentility by Emily Thornwell

177.9 D131 (1881) Etiquette of Social Life in Washington by Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren

177.9 W582-1 (1891) W582-1 Polite Society at Home and Abroad by Annie Randall White

177.9 K55 (1902) Book of Weddings by Florence Burton Kingsland

177.9 H758b (1920) Encyclopedia of Etiquette; what to write, what to do, what to wear, what to say; a book of manners by Emily Holt

177.9 M687 (1933) No Nice Girl Swears by Alice-Leone Moats

177.9 J76 (1938) Gentlemen Aren’t Sissies by Norton Hughes Jonathan

177.9 J76a (1948) Guide Book For Young Man About Town by Norton Hughes Jonathan

358.412 S539 (1951) The Air Force Wife by Nancy Shea

177.9 C689 (1961) The Modern Bride Book by Emma Aubert Cole

And of course, if you’re looking for more up-to-date guidelines on social conduct, we have everything you need to be a charming and courteous member of today’s modern society:

177.9 C997 Etiquette and Modern Manners by Edward Cyster

177.9 V228 Complete Book of Etiquette; A Guide to Gracious Living by Amy Vanderbilt

301.55 S478 Emily Post's Manners in a Digital World: Living Well Online by Daniel Post Senning

 

“Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson


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