Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Etiquette in Gilded Age Boston

"So tell us about your new social club, girls." The tact and graciousness which please the cultured and unlearned of society manners, never count for more than among those who have not studied the rules of etiquette!

"New! Social Clubs for Working Girls in 1888!"

The successful beginning of a social club for working girls in Boston shows that experience has taught the way of interesting and amusing a most critical class of young women. Efforts made by girls of leisure to meet socially those who work, are apt to fail from want of tact on the part of the former and suspicion from the latter. Sometimes the benevolent young lady makes the mistake of establishing too intimate and cordial relations with the working girl whom she kindly hopes to elevate and encourage.


She visits the girl at her home, invites her to dinner or tea, and places their relations on the basis of intimate friendship. Although some instances of this method have been excellent in results, many; have been painful in termination. On the other hand, a social club with educational aims may be made beneficial to all its members. A young woman who was active in the formation of a successful club said to me, "Both the girls at leisure and the girls that work gain from our pleasant relations. We learn much from the others. Girls who earn their own living; gain a keenness from meeting the world which we cannot attain in our quiet home lives. They are so bright, too. We feel that they can take our measure, as it were, at once, and we are sometimes positively afraid of their penetrating looks."



It has been found that the young woman who has achieved social success in her own circle is most apt to be appreciated by the girls who know nothing of the ways of society. The tact and graciousness which please the cultured and unlearned of society manners, never count for more than among those who have not studied the rules of etiquette.
—From the Boston Journal, 1888


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