Saturday, September 24, 2005


My Grandma just gave me a Book of Etiquette published in 1921 that belonged to my great grandmother. It includes topics such as how to run your home, how to handle correspondence, and proper protocall for courtship, engagements, and weddings. It's hilarious. Some examples of good etiquette as set forth by Lillian Eichler are as follows:

--the first intimation of recognition after an introduction must always come from the lady
--extra engravings and crests on a woman's card indicate bad taste
--a "friendly" letter is different from a "social letter"
--after a man proposes, he must explain his financial and social status to her parents
--birthday parties for children are from 3-6 in the afternoon (unless you turn 16, in which case it's from 5-7)
--a cultured man is never angry, impatient, or demonstrative
--40 years of marriage is the woolen anniversary

The author suggests that this volume is written "not for the exceedingly ill-bred or for the highly polished, but for those who find a certain sense of satisfaction in doing what is correct (vi)." Approaching others with dignity and respect and conducting yourself in a gracious manner are important, to be sure. But living to the letter of the law in either faith or "social graces" simply leaves us all unhappy. However there is some good advice in this volume... having self confidence v. conceit, owning up to your mistakes and faults, possessing a friendly nature, and, of course, purchasing a typewriter as it is a social necessity.


Tmproff said...

Wow, no wonder I always feel so socially inept....

Phil said...

Pretty interesting indeed. I also find it striking that, it seems from what you've written and quoted, that the author assumes "etiquette" to be white, privileged women. I wonder what such a book would look like in terms of a multiethnic, cross-cultural sort of situation.

LK said...

Yes, someone needs to write one!

Anonymous said...

I love those!