Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Etiquette of Addressing a Lady

"Artist Charles Dana Gibson's representation of American womanhood at the turn of the century was so captivating that it seemed every woman wanted to become a 'Gibson Girl.' In this cartoon, Gibson parodies his own creation, having the women toy with a minuscule man with the aid of a magnifying glass. Times were definitely changing." Library of Congress

Good Form in Addressing a Lady

A lady who has not been married and is no longer young should be addressed and mentioned by every one, except her household, with tho prefix of "Miss" before her name, even though the number of daughters in her family makes it necessary for the sake of definiteness to include her baptismal name also when mentioning her. 

To use a first name when conversing with an elderly unmarried woman is in bad form. Had the true old custom been retained of addressing matrons and all un-wedded women who were no longer youthful as Mistress, speech with them would be far more elegant than it is—Mrs., as a word, meaning nothing. 

In notes and speech, a young unmarried lady is addressed as Miss by gentlemen, mere acquaintances and servants, but her own family and kinfolks, also her intimate friends, call her by the name which was given to her at baptism, and it is not considered in good form to speak to or of her otherwise. 

The use of "Miss" by her own circle leaves no distinctive method by which remoter persons may speak to or of a young girl. This formality may be criticized, but, according to the social etiquette of New York, it is the usage of the very best society and has an excellent reason underlying it. For a dear woman friend to speak to, or indeed of, a young lady by any but her first name, except to a social inferior, would be inelegant for the reason already given. 
From The Herald News, May of 1891

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia