Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Victorian Picnic Etiquette

If a lady chooses to seat herself upon the ground, you are not at liberty to follow her example unless she invites you to be seated. She must not have occasion to think of the possibility of any impropriety on your part. You are her servant, protector, and guard of honor. You will of course give her your hand to assist her in rising.

and Etiquette for Other Outdoor Excursions



Picnic excursions into the country are not occasions of ceremony, but call for the exercise of all one's real good nature and good breeding. On leaving the carriage, cars, or steamboat, gentlemen should of course relieve the ladies they attend of the shawls, baskets, etc., with which they may have provided themselves, and give them all necessary assistance in reaching the spot selected for the festivities. It is also their duty and their happiness to accompany them in their rambles, when it is the pleasure of the fair ones to require their attendance, but not to be obtrusive. They may sometimes wish to be alone.

If a lady chooses to seat herself upon the ground, you are not at liberty to follow her example unless she invites you to be seated. She must not have occasion to think of the possibility of any impropriety on your part. You are her servant, protector, and guard of honor. You will, of course, give her your hand to assist her in rising. 


When the sylvan repast is served, you will see that the ladies whose cavalier you have the honor to be, lack nothing. The ladies, social queens though they be, should not forget that every favor or act of courtesy and deference, by whoever shown, demands some acknowledgment on their part—a word, a bow, a smile, or at least a kind look.  – From 1887's "How to Behave"

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

Monday, May 30, 2016

Japanese Toilette Etiquette

 Victorian era view of a "Japanese belle" making her toilette — or as we know it today— she is engaging in her beauty regime.

The New Year Toilette of a Japanese Belle

The most elaborate New Year toilettes in the world are made by Japanese belles. The women of Japan have been having a New Year for hundreds of years before the women of Christian countries, according to their chronology of the age of the world, and they have learned to make much more of it than the women of shorter-lived nations. 


The New Year in Japan, falling a little later than ours, brings the flowery kingdom into its full floweriness; and on that day, the whole glad New Year is called in to celebrate the advent of another twelfth month. It is commonly supposed  that women in Japan hold a secondary place to men and that no festival could be carried on by them and for them. But, far from being the case, there is no nation on earth that values its women as highly as the Japanese, and no country where the New Year is more beautifully ushered in by them. 

Women have a strange way, all over the world, of bringing in the New Year. Other holidays are common to all, men and women, but the New Year seems devoted to women alone. In Japan on New Year's day the ladies are up early and making a most elaborate toilette. The toilette of a Japanese women is always a refined one, and the sweetest of cosmetics and the most delicate of scents are employed for her beautification. But the New Year toilet is something specially fine. 

On the New Year, the Japanese belle, like the Chinese one, wears no old clothes. Everything from her flowing silk outer garments to her straight, delicately woven undergarments is all new. Her favorite color is pink, and ter robes are gorgeous in colors of pink and red. She makes her toilette sitting on the floor with a silk robe around her. When she gets out of her peculiar little bed upon the floor and lifts her shapely head from her smooth, round pillow, she gets into a perfumed bath, in the taking of which she is assisted by her female servants, if she be a woman of very high rank, and by the women of her household if she be of good family but not wealthy. Her perfumed bath is poured into a tub and a little matting screen is set around the tub. Into the water she gets, while her women sit outside the screen upon the clean matting floor.

When the time comes for a shampoo of the flesh, the bather rises and the women of the family assist her, making a sport of this daily ablution. In this respect, the heathen differs from the Christian. A Christian woman conceals the fact that she bathes, and beyond doing so daily for cleanliness spends no time in the bath. It is not even etiquette to mention it. But the heathen talks of it, and the fables are full of the wives of high dignitaries whose daily round of happenings took place in the gardens through which they walked while going to and from the bath.

The bath over, and on New Year's day it is prolonged, the Japanese woman bather sets up her little easel and, taking her place upon the floor, begins to beautify herself. Her fine, soft, brown skin is massaged with grease perfumes and washed with scents. Then into the long brows are smoothed streaks of black greased paint to make them longer. The peculiar slanting eyes of the Japanese belle are caused largely by the way she puts on the brow paint, and the tales that are told of operations to change the form of the Japanese eyes are mostly without foundation. The style for the eyes is less slanting than it used to be, and what we would flippantly call the style for 1898 is almost as straight as our own. A touch of carmine is rubbed into the lips of the belle to make a pointed pout and a tiny bit of rouge is put upon the point of her chin.

The Japanese rouge is a smooth, soft thing, much like our vaseline, and is not unpleasant to thought or touch. When her toilet is made the Japanese belle plays with her children upon the floor, talks with her women, embroiders and conducts her household affairs. She does not receive strangers into the house, as it is not etiquette to do so, nor does she receive men callers unless they accompany her husband home, in which case she may, if they be specially honored friends of the family, wait upon them with the New Year rice cake and the whey. The Japanese belle makes her pretty New Year toilette for her own husband, and when you see how carefully she prepares herself to be beautiful in his eyes you think that, after all, the religion that animates her life is not so bad
—Ralph Cruger, January 2, 1898


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Flag Etiquette and Respect




"This service flag is published in honor of the 69 employees of The Evening Herald who are serving their country." —  9 / 11 / 1914, The Los Angeles Evening Herald 



More Attention Should Be Paid to Flag Etiquette

Many persons who do not mean to show disrespect to the flag, nevertheless do so. Here and there, all through the city, one sees flags flying which the rains have stained and the winds have whipped into rags. Evidently those who hoisted the flags have left them to the rough treatment of the elements, never giving themselves the trouble to take the emblems down either at night or in bad weather. 


Now, the flag is not simply a piece of bunting or merely an evidence of its owner’s patriotism, the flag is the actual symbol of the nation, of the nation’s history, of its renown, of its dignity, of its sovereignty and of all that is embodied in its traditions and its laws. Therefore, the flag should be treated with respect. 

The right way to do is to hoist the flag in the morning and to lower it and fold it away in the evening. The technical times for raising and lowering the flag are sunrise and sunset. But it is not at all necessary that civilians should follow this rule with exact fidelity. Sufficient respect is shown to the flag by raising it at some time in the morning and lowering it at some time in the evening, and protecting it from being made an unsightly and ragged thing by winds and storms. 

A flag that through long use becomes discolored and worn out, should be folded up and put away and another substituted for it. In one sense this is not a large matter or an important matter. But in another sense it is important. None of us can ever show too much respect for the national emblem, and more particularly in these strenuous times of war every one of us should treat this symbol of our country’s sovereignty and institutions and liberties with all possible respect and care. 

Protect your flag. Raise it and lower it at the proper time. Show it every possible respect. —From The Los Angeles Evening Herald, September 11, 1918

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

American Flag Etiquette and Protocol

"Standing at attention, raise the right hand to the forehead over the right eye, palm downward, fingers extended and close together, arm at an angle of forty-five degrees. Move hand outward about a foot, with a quick motion then drop to the side. When the colors are passing on parade or in review, the spectator should, if walking, halt, if sitting, arise, and stand at attention and uncover." 

The flag is displayed every day only on government buildings and schoolhouses. 

On state holidays, and like commemorative days when it is customary for the flag to be displayed on private buildings, it should be raised at sunrise and lowered at sunset. 

It should not be displayed on stormy days, nor left out over night. 

It should never be allowed to touch the ground. 

When it is to be displayed at half-mast only, it should be raised to the tip of the staff and then lowered halfway. 

It should never be festooned or draped, but always be hung flat. 

On Memorial Day, May 30, the flag should be displayed at half-mast until twelve o'clock noon, and then raised to the top of the staff until sunset. 

The salute for the changing of the position of the flag at all army posts and stations having artillery, is as follows: 

Immediately before noon, the band plays some appropriate air, and at the stroke of twelve the national salute of twenty-one guns is fired. After this the flag is hoisted to the peak of the staff, while everybody stands at attention, with hand raised to the forehead ready for the salute. When the colors reach the top, the salute is given, and the band plays patriotic airs. The salute to the flag is used at its formal raising, and when it passes on parade or in review. 

The hand salute according to the regulations of the United States Army is as follows: 

"Standing at attention, raise the right hand to the forehead over the right eye, palm downward, fingers extended and close together, arm at an angle of forty-five degrees. Move hand outward about a foot, with a quick motion then drop to the side. When the colors are passing on parade or in review, the spectator should, if walking, halt, if sitting, arise, and stand at attention and uncover." 

In schools two forms of salute are taught. The first, for primary children, is: 

"We give our heads and our hearts to God and our country; one country, one land, one flag." 

The second, for all other pupils, is: 

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 

When the flag is carried on parade, it is dipped in salute to the official who is reviewing the parade. 

Whenever the flag is displayed with other flags, whether the colors of a regiment or other military organization, or of alien nations, it should be placed, or carried, or crossed, at the right of the other flag or flags. 

When portrayed in illustrations by any process or for any purpose, it is so pictured that the staff will always be at the left and the fabric will float to the right. 

The chief regulations governing the composition of the flag are as follows: 

In the field of the flag there should be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternating red and white, the first and the last stripes red. These stripes represent the thirteen original colonies. The colors red and white were chosen by George Washington, the red from the flag of England, the Mother Country, broken by the white, symbolizing liberty, to show the separation. 

The union of the flag; white stars on a field of blue; should be seven stripes high, and about seven-tenths of the height of the flag in length. "The stars should have five points, with one point directly upward." The stars symbolize the States. "By an act of Congress on October 26, 1912, the flag now has forty-eight stars, arranged in six horizontal rows of eight each." – From Edith Ordway,"The Etiquette of To-Day", 1918


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Friday, May 27, 2016

White House Mistress Etiquette

Woodrow Wilson had two wives while in the White House, one of whom died in 1914. Up until the later 1800s, the wife of  U.S. President was not the "First Lady." The wife of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ruled over Washington society, as her husband had his job for life, as opposed to the job of U.S. President, which is a temporary position.

Before They Were Called First Ladies, They Were the
Mistresses of the White House

Not only has Woodrow Wilson been elected President of the United States, but, what is fully as important in the estimation of multitudes of Americans, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, and Miss Margaret Wilson, Miss Jessie Wilson and Miss Eleanor Wilson will move into the White House next March. The place of the ladies of the White House has been kept before the country almost as prominently through all these years as has that of the President himself. 


Eternally questions of precedence and etiquette have come forward. The public has wanted to know all about the daily life and the domestic doings of the Presidential family, the housekeeping woes of the mistress of the mansion and her behavior at the official receptions; the tastes and habits of all the feminine members of the family, and withal there have been at times little tales of boudoir plots and parlor intrigues, although the history of the United States has very little of the backstairs kind of gossip that has played a large part in the histories of the nations of Europe. 


Abigail Adams, First Mistress

The wife of the first President did not live in the White House, of course. Abigail Adams of Quincy, Mass., was the first mistress of the mansion, although in her time it was a mansion in the making, and the finishing seemed to her very far away indeed. It was she who used the "great, unfinished audience room" as a place in which to dry the family wash. 

Dolly Madison was almost as much mistress of the mansion in Jefferson's time as in that of his successor, her husband, and it was she who saved the one piece of the original furnishings which is this day in the Presidential residence. When the British burned the house in 1814 the redoubtable Dolly managed to carry away the portrait of Washington which hangs now over the mantel in the Red Room. 


It has taken a long time for the mansion to approach completion, and no sooner was it finished than it was destroyed by the ruthless hands of the English soldiery. The building which succeeded the first residence was a faithful reproduction in forms and dimensions of the plans drawn by the original architect, Maj. Hoban. The very foundations and part of the outside walls are relics of the building which went in fire in 1814. 



Mansion Is Now Complete 

Then in 1902 there was begun the White House improvements which have resulted in the mansion of today becoming almost precisely what the President's house was intended to be by those who made the original plans for it. It was necessary to relieve the residence of the necessity of being headquarters for the business of the executive. An office annex was built and thus the disfiguring additions to the mansion could be taken away. 

The original plans were studied for the restoration of the residence itself, and the buildings of the University of Virginia, planned by Jefferson, were investigated. A dining room was provided in which 100 guests might be entertained. Space for the comfortable housing of such a family as that of Woodrow Wilson was secured. And finally, In 1912, the office building has been enlarged and reconstructed, so that the new president will have such family accommodations as many of his predecessors sighed for in vain. 


The story of the successive White House families has much of picturesque variety. Not always has the mistress been the wife of the President. Buchanan was a bachelor; he had been disappointed in love as a young man. Jefferson, Jackson, Van Buren and Arthur were widowers. Grover Cleveland alone of the line was married in the mansion. 


Tyler lost his wife while in office, and married again, but the ceremony took place in New York. Benjamin Harrison's wife died while he was in the Presidential chair. Mrs. McKinley was an invalid, as was the first Mrs. Tyler. Andrew Jackson had a battle that cost him more sleep probably than did the battle of New Orleans, a battle over the social recognition of a certain lady while he was living in the Presidential home. 


The Pierces lost a son by a sad accident, and the calamity threw a shadow over most of their four years in the residence. And each of the two last Presidents has had a daughter to take her place as the First Young Lady of the Land, and now the new President has not only one, but three.  — The Sausalito News, 1913


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Etiquette and French Children

Politeness, with the French, is a matter of education as well as nature. The French child is taught that lesson from the beginning of its existence, and it is made a part of its life.





In an article on the politeness of French children as compared with boys and girls in America, the writer illustrates what he is saying in this way:—

"I was travelling in a compartment with a little French boy of twelve, the age at which American children, as a rule, deserve killing for their rudeness and general disagreeableness. I sat between him and the open window, and he was eating pears. Now most boys in our country of that age would either have dropped the cores upon the floor or tossed them out of the window, without regard to anybody. But this small gentleman, every time, with a 'Permit me, sir,' said in the most pleasant way, rose and came to the window and dropped them out, and then with a 'Thanks, sir,' quietly took his seat.

French children do not take favors as a matter of course and unacknowledged. And when in his seat, if an elderly person came in, he was the very first to rise and offer his place, if it were in the slightest degree more comfortable than another; and the good-nature with which he insisted on the new-comer's taking it was delightful to see."

The writer goes on to say that this was not an exceptional boy, but a fair type of the average French child, and his conduct was a sample of what might be seen anywhere, even among the ragged boys of the street. The reason for this state of things is given in the opening sentences of the article:—

"Politeness, with the French, is a matter of education as well as nature. The French child is taught that lesson from the beginning of its existence, and it is made a part of its life. It is the one thing that is never forgotten, and the lack of it never forgiven.”  – From Edith E. Wiggin's 1884, “Lessons on Manners / For School and Home Use.”


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Etiquette and Art of Introductions

When meeting the fabulous looking new neighbors, please invite them to join your card game. —  "The ceremony of introduction may be said to form the threshold of that much-sought-after state which has been defined as "the intercourse of persons on a footing of apparent equality." 

The Custom of Introductions; Its Uses and Abuses in Society And Every Day Life

As the home is known as the foundation of society, so the ceremony of introduction may be said to form the threshold of that much-sought-after state which has been defined as "the intercourse of persons on a footing of apparent equality." 

In the cities and towns of cosmopolitan America, with few exceptions, this threshold is somewhat carelessly guarded by society at large, which accounts in a large measure for the presence of many undesirable people and manners, in even the inner circles of what is known as "good society." 

Few, perhaps, of what might be called the fundamental ceremonies of society, demand more care, thought and tact than the function of making two or more people acquainted with each other, especially if the person introduced should chance to be a "stranger within the city's gates" or beneath the roof where the new addition to one's calling list may be made. 

On the other hand, thousands of people believe that a casual and friendly introduction, under almost any circumstances, can hurt no one, but the fact remains that the etiquette of that tribunal known as the "upper circles" frowns down most decidedly the custom of indiscriminate introductions. 

At the same time, it must be confessed, that so-called "exclusiveness" is often the handmaid of vulgarity, and snobbishness is often rebuked by the well-bred person, who feels that it is better to sin against formal etiquette than to do anything that is unkind. 

Common sense and tact must largely interpret all etiquette, but in the matter of formal introductions, particularly those that may launch the waiting aspirant upon the sea of social life, perhaps above all other qualities, these may be used freely to obtain the happiest and most to be desired results. — Los Angeles Herald, 1901

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Etiquette and Life's Advantages

Certain lessons, like dancing and deportment lessons, will be to one's advantage in later years. 


Parents who are overindulgent with their children should adopt a firmer attitude toward their growing offspring and make them take certain lessons which will be to their advantage in later years. 

One young man whose sisters are more accomplished in dancing and drawing room behavior than he is said the other day that he wished he had been made to go to dancing school regularly, because it would save him many unpleasant hours now and would make him a more eligible partner at dances.

His sisters, he explained, liked their dancing and deportment lessons, and therefore they got ahead, while he now has to study the things he should have learned a few years earlier. — San Francisco Call, 1912


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Curtsey Etiquette and Art

The curtsey is the foundation of drawing room grace, for through its bending and dipping, self-consciousness —which usually creates awkwardness — is eliminated. 

There is more in the art of curtseying than the novice imagines. It is a bow, a graceful exercise and an excellent method of teaching balance. The young girl who early masters the difficult movements need never fear making an awkward or unattractive appearance anywhere.

It might be said that the curtsey is the foundation of drawing room grace, for through its bending and dipping, self-consciousness —which usually creates awkwardness — is eliminated.

The curtsey is taught first as an exercise by itself. The young girl is given certain aesthetic movements to do which are a part of the curtsey, afterward she is told to lift her skirts daintily and bow as she would to some great person. The idea of rank inspires the girl with a sense of the great importance of the curtsey, although it is introduced into simple home affairs quite as much as it is used upon formal occasions.

The foundation principle of the curtsey is balance. No girl can bow and drop almost to the floor without toppling over and looking, as if in another minute, she would do so, unless she is well poised on her feet.

One foot should he placed in advance of the other, usually the right, while the weight of the body is divided between the two, unless a forward or backward movement is to follow, when the body should be so slightly poised that the weight can be shifted from one foot to the other without the shifting becoming noticeable.

With the body thus lightly poised, so that no effort is required to lift it or lower it, it should first be raised by standing on the tips of the toes, when the body should be bent in a long, sweeping, graceful bow.

When making a formal curtsey the body is lowered until it almost touches the floor. Less formal ones are graded according to the depth of the bow or the bending of the body. As the knees are bent, and the body slips toward the floor, the head should be inclined and then lifted again as the standing position is resumed.

When curtseying the old fashioned position of the feet must be assumed, with toes out at an angle from the body. It would be practically impossible to curtsey with any freedom and grace of movement if the feet were held in a straight line. With the feet placed at an angle to the body and one foot slightly advanced there is no danger of swaying or falling when the rules are observed.

And it is important that a step forward or backward be taken immediately preceding or following the act of curtseying. This position is one of the most important in drawing room or ballroom deportment, for upon its mastery and use depends the case with which a young woman passes down a receiving line and does not get out of step or find herself trying to advance with the wrong foot after she has curtseyed to one of the personages in line.

Suppose you have made a quaint old fashloned-bow to the head of the receiving line and you wlah to repeat the formal greeting to the person standing at the leader's left. When there is a large number of guests, a break In the line means confusion to every one and it takes time to get the column of guests under way again. Rather than become the awkward cause of such a disturbance it would be well to rehearse the bowing and resuming one's progress time after time at dancing school or at home until the movements follow each other correctly like clockwork.

The movements soon become more or less automatic and a girl learns to shift herself from one position to another without giving any conscious thought to the act, yet if she made a mistake she would realize It in a minute and might be able, if well versed in deportment rules, to recover herself without interrupting the procedure of others.

Reviving the old fashioned curtsey has suggested that there may be other little features of deportment requiring emphasis, and one of these is the graceful exit from a room. The awkwardness with which the average young girl quits a room has been the subject of much comment, and certain circles are demanding a reformation.

Teachers of etiquette and drawing room deportment are putting their pupils through exercises which are designed to improve the carriage and grace of the debutante.They are teaching her how to open a door and pass out through it while keeping her face toward her hostess or the person in the room. Carelessness has made girls forget that this attention is due the person to whom "good-bye" has been said.

Usually the girls are in a hurry to get to some other place or they are occupied with the next appointment or perhaps they have never had their attention called to the fact that saying "good-bye" is not the final act of departure. Having had this done, girls are now beginning to see that the formal leave-taking is not terminated until the guest has withdrawn from the room, if she is calling or has been summoned before her parents or some older person in authority.

In informal meetings, these details of deportment are not generally observed, but they should be learned as a preparation for more formal occasions, because one never knows at what time they will be valuable assets.

Girls often make the same mistake of entering a room, especially if they shut the door behind them. In entering they face the center of the room or the end where the person visited is seated; then in order to close the door they turn squarely around, back to the room, and gently push the door to. After accomplishing this act successfully they consider themselves ready to go on with the formal entrance, which by this time has lost all its dignity and attractiveness.

For no person can suggest both of these qualities by presenting her back to a gathering. It is easy to close a door after you without moving the body around. The arms and hands do it while the face is turned toward the center of the room. 


Of course these details seem trivial to very young girls, who seldom take all the interest in their manners that they should, but by the time a girl has finished school and is ready to enter society she will be grateful to the parent or teacher who insisted on her learning the little arts which seemed so useless to her before. — San Francisco, 1912

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Etiquette and the Curtsey

The curtsey is a traditional gesture of greeting, in which a girl, or a woman, bends her knees while bowing her head. It is the female equivalent of male bowing in Western cultures. Judith Martin, (aka "Miss Manners") explains its knee bend derived from a "traditional gesture of an inferior to a superior."

The Charm of the Curtsey 


A young Englishwoman of title visited this country recently she expressed astonishment at the ignorance of the art of formal social behavior which American girls displayed. They did not know how to bow correctly, the curtsey seemed to have become an obsolete social form here; they had not learned the graceful way to proceed down the length of a receiving line, and there were countless other social manners and customs, held in high esteem by foreigners, which seemed to have been neglected in the early training of American girls, she said.

Then it happened that teachers of social decorum began to consider how to improve the girls' social bearing, and in looking over the field they decided that a touch of quaintness and old fashioned forms would be both charming and suitable. So the curtsey was introduced, and now it is one of the first lessons in etiquette taught the schoolgirl. 


Its revival is expected to have a decided influence on the deportment of the future debutante, for with the development of the curtsey there is gradually growing a more formal attitude among young persons toward older men and women.

The curtsey is a charming greeting from youth to its kind, or from youth to its elders. It is graceful, quaint, has dignity and respect in every movement, and when well executed is as attractive as any form of greeting we have. Young girls master its intricacies of movements readily and after a few lessons are as quick to adapt it to social life as were their grandmothers. 


One grandmother who had not seen her grandchildren since they were in the pinafore stage was surprised the other day to observe one child, aged 15, curtsey to her mother's friends in the drawing room. It was the hour before the serving of the informal dinner to which a few friends had been invited and the children were having 10 minutes' enjoyment with the "company." When the time came for the little group of boys and girls, ranging in aged from 8 to 15, to withdraw while the older persons proceeded to the dining room, each little one curtseyed gravely and gracefully. 

The grandmother was enchanted with the performance and expressed a hope that all children would learn the good old fashioned style of greeting and leave-taking, which is one of the sweetest tributes youth can pay to age, or exalted position. — San Francisco, 1912

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Etiquette for Confederates

Southern Belle, Varina Davis, tried to duplicate the protocol and etiquette of Washington DC, after her husband became President of the US Civil War's Confederacy 


The Confederacy's Jefferson Davis, and His Wife's Washingtonian Inspired Attempts at Copying the North's Presidential Protocol 

In his "Recollections of Richmond," Edward A. Pollard chats as follows about Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson Davis:




Amid the frivolities and vicissitudes of Richmond society during the war, Mrs. Jefferson Davis was conspicuous for an attempt to introduce into them something of the manners and and etiquette she had imported from certain circles in Washington. It proved not only an ignominious failure, but an unpleasant scandal. 

The Confederate President himself, although recluse and haughty in his government, was democratic enough in his personal habits, simple in his social tastes, and plain and accessible to the populace. But Davis was the most usurious of men, and it was surprising indeed that a man of his fine nervous organism, a very type of social dilletantism, should have fallen so much under the dominion of a woman who was so excessively coarse and physical in her person, and in whom the defects of nature had been repaired neither by the grace of manners, nor the charms of conversation. 

Mrs. Davis was a brawny, able-bodied woman, who had much more of masculine mettle than of feminine grace; her complexion was tawny, even to mulattoism; a woman loud and coarse in her manners, full of self assertion, not the one of her sex who would have been supposed to win the deference of a delicate man like Davis — whimsical in health, a victim to "nerves," nice and morbid in his social tastes — although she might as well have conquered the submission of such a creature by the force of her character. 

Davis deferred to her in the social regulations she would impose upon Richmond. She demanded the etiquette of Washington, that the President's lady should return no calls; she introduced what was unknown in Richmond — liveried servants; and when every horse was impressed in the service, the citizens forced to to go afoot, remarked with some disdain the elegant equipage of Mrs. Davis, that paused much more before the shops of Main street than the aristocratic residences of Grace and Franklin.

Davis himself was simple and democratic in his habits. His figure, habitually clothed in Confederate gray, was familiar on the streets, or might be seen almost every evening, mounted on the rather mean horse on which he took regular exercise. He invited the approach and freedom of  the commonest men, but sometimes to the disadvantage of his dignity. 


A number of stories were told in Richmond of his curiously free intercourse with his soldiers, although they lacked something of the Napoleonic tradition. Once, when he was crossing Capitol Square, a drunken North Carolina soldier stopped him and inquired, "Say, mister, be' t you Jefferson Davis?" "Sir," returned the President, "that is my name." "I thought so," replied tar heel, "you look so much like a Confederate postage stamp." 

Another occasion was more dramatic. The President was returning with Mrs. Davis from one of the customary festivities on a flag of truce boat that had come up the James. Walking the street in the night, unattended by his staff, and with no indications of his importance, he had to pass the front of the Libby Prison, where a sentinel paced, and according to his orders, forced passengers from the sidewalk to take the middle of the street. 

As the President, with his wife on his arm approached him, he ordered them on the pavement. "I am the President," replied Davis, "allow us to pass." "None of your gammon," replied the soldier, bringing his musket to his shoulder, "if you don't get into the street, I'll blow the top of your head off." "But I am Jefferson Davis man — I am your President — no more of your insolence!" and the President pressed forward. He was rudely thrust back, and in a moment he had drawn a sword or dagger concealed in his cane, and was about to rush on the insolent sentinel, when Mrs. Davis flung herself between the strange combatants, and by her screams aroused the officer of the guard. 

Explanations were made, and the President went safely home. But instead of the traditional reward of the faithful sentry, that has usually graced such romantic adventures, came an order next day for the Libby to degrade the soldier, and give him a taste of bread and water for his unwitting insult to the Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate armies. — Sacramento Daily Union, 1868


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Etiquette and the Chaperone

Among school-girls, there are those from different circles, and such would meet at parties and adhere to the etiquette of their own circle. But these differences could not be carried into general society without injury to the standing of the innovator. 

The Chaperone...

Mrs. General Bidwell Writes An Interesting Letter on the Subject to the Chronicle-Record

Having lived from childhood to marriage under this system, the impulse irresistible to present is from the standpoint of the circle in which it prevailed in Washington, our nation's capital. Doubtless the diplomatic element had something to do with its existence there, but it was never suggested as a system of “espionage.” On the contrary it was supposed to be of equal advantage to gentlemen as to ladies. The style of entertaining has much to do with its existence. 


In Washington parties were made up of all ages, from the debutante to the grent-grandparents, if they had hearts to enjoy them. Thus daughters had their parents, or relatives as escorts, leaving them free to accept attention from all gentlemen, and gentleman equally free from bondage to any one lady. The young lady’s self-respect was never sacrificed by feeling herself a burden to an escort, if not sufficiently popular to have him relieved of her presence from tune to time. Young men from other cities have complained to me of the expensive hackhire, bouquets and suppers after theatre, which they have been compelled to furnish or lose social caste. The newspapers were ever inveighing against “the greediness and expensiveness of the ice-cream girl.” 

Ashamed and indignant have I been at the criticism of young ladies from elsewhere, of the young gentlemen who failed to furnish these “perquisites,” to have done which would have been impossible unless dishonestly done. As school-girls, our brothers were our escorts, or one of our parents or relatives of mine would have felt keenly the slight had I accepted any other. Among school-girls there are those from different circles, and such would meet at parties and adhere to the etiquette of their own circle. But these differences could not be carried into general society without injury to the standing of the innovator. 

When invited to a strictly young people’s party—adults, one of the parents or a relative—was expected to escort the young lady "in justice to the hostess,” and to assist in introducing her. There was no suggestion of want of confidence in one's virtue. Still, no fond mother could feel that it was proper for the daughter to be taken to a party, and not from it, often in the morning hours, by any gentleman who would propose such a thing, especially when knowing how many are not fit to escort anyone at such hours, after such an evening. I know whereof I speak, from observation, and the confidence of those who have experienced the unpleasantness of such exposure. 

A chaperone can be provided in such a manner, and of such a character, as to do more harm than good, but properly provided, is, in my opinion, a blessing to gentleman and lady.  –Annie K. Bidwell, 1894


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor of the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Retro Travel Etiquette

When much luggage is necessary for a trip, part of it should be sent ahead by express or else shipped through in the baggage car.


When traveling by train one should take as little baggage as possible, for storage space is limited. The passenger who must have his numerous belongings piled on the platform, where they obstruct passage from car to car, is a nuisance. 

When much luggage is necessary for a trip, part of it should be sent ahead by express or else shipped through in the baggage car. On the ticket, a certain amount of pounds go free. In the latter case, however, it is important to know that baggage cannot be shipped on the passenger's ticket beyond the point of his descent, and there is often a wait while the freight car is unloaded and baggage sorted out. 

In a Pullman, large bags are usually placed on the platform by the porter, unless they fit under the seat. They should be locked, of course. A small bag may go to a seat, but not if it is likely to be in the way of a seat mate. At night such a bag should be small enough to fit in the hammock above the berth. In a roomette or compartment all hand baggage is stored by the porter in the allotted space. — Amy Vanderbilt, 1954

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

More Dining Etiquette for Children


 Did she get permission to help herself to those? — If those in company with us make mistakes, we should be governed by the same rule as in case of accidents,—not take notice unless we can undo or cover the mistake.




We should be attentive to the wants of others, particularly at our own table, and quietly supply them when it is proper to do so, especially in the case of old people and little children. In passing a knife, fork, or spoon to others, we must offer them the handle, not the blade or point, and pass a pitcher with the handle toward them.

If an accident occurs, such as breaking a dish, overturning a glass of water, or dropping food upon the cloth, we should take no notice of it by look or word unless we can repair the mischief, which we should do in a way not to attract attention to the unlucky person.

We should never speak of what is unpleasant at the table. If we have bad news to tell, this is not the place to tell it. Sickness, accident, death, and whatever is painful to hear, should not be discussed any more than what is disagreeable. Neither is the table the place to talk of work or business details, but subjects should be chosen that all are interested in. 


No one should be allowed to scold or find fault at meal time. Cheerful conversation is good for digestion as well as enjoyment. Each one should be in his best mood at the table, and the hours which families spend together there ought to be among the happiest of the day.

Solomon understood this matter when he said, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."

No well-bred person would for a moment think of using a toothpick at the table, still less a fork or a pin in place of a toothpick.

No one, either a grown person or a child, should leave his seat until the lady of the house rises, unless there is good reason for doing so, when he should politely ask her to excuse him. In rising, the chair should not be pushed back from the table, but lifted quietly with the hands, and left in its proper position. 

Every movement at the table should be made with as little noise as possible. All moving of feet, leaning upon the table, jostling of dishes, or clatter of knives and forks, shows ignorance of table manners.

If we observe the manners and customs of others in society to which we have not been accustomed, we shall be often saved from blunders. If those in company with us make mistakes, we should be governed by the same rule as in case of accidents,—not take notice unless we can undo or cover the mistake. An incident is related of a certain king which illustrates this true politeness.

At the royal table on one occasion were two ladies from an obscure provincial town who were unused to the customs of city and court. When tea was brought in they poured some from the cup into the saucer to cool it. The king saw a smile go around the table at their expense, and, with politeness worthy of a king, he hastened to pour his own tea into the saucer, upon which every person at the table felt obliged to follow the royal example, and the two strangers were spared the mortification of discovering that had done anything unusual. – Edith E. Wiggin's 1884, “Lessons on Manners / For School and Home Use.”


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Children's Etiquette for Dining


It is polite to wait until all or nearly all are helped before beginning to eat; and children should never begin before older people.


Manners at the Table


It is not polite to linger after being called to the table. When the bell is rung, or any other summons given, it is to be supposed that the meal is ready, and the call should be promptly obeyed. Food does not improve by waiting, and unnecessary delay is rudeness to the persons at whose table we sit, whether our own parents or strangers. When we know the hours for meals we should plan to be ready for them.

Until the lady of the house takes her seat, other persons should not take theirs. In taking our seats we should be careful not to jar the table. Each one should quietly wait his turn to be helped. Children sometimes pass their plates as soon as they are seated, or begin to handle knife, fork, and spoon as if they were in hungry haste. They should wait for visitors and older persons to be helped first, and brothers should wait for their sisters.

A story is told of a little girl, five years old, who at a large dinner party was overlooked until the company had finished the first course. She waited before her empty plate in perfect quietness until some one noticed her,—bravely trying to keep back the tears,—because she thought it was the polite and proper thing to do. This was carrying polite waiting further than was necessary, but was much better than the rude haste too common among children.

It is polite to wait until all or nearly all are helped before beginning to eat; and children should never begin before older people.

It is not polite to ask for things at other tables than our own or those of intimate friends who expect it of us. The persons at whose table we sit are expected to supply our wants without our making them known. In asking we must not forget to say, "Please pass the bread," or whatever we wish for, and to say, "If you please," "Yes, thank you," or "No, thank you," when we accept or decline what is offered. We should ask for any article by name, and never point at the dish. 


Ill-mannered children sometimes ask for pie or pudding or oranges before they are brought on, instead of waiting for the courses in their proper order, and even have been known to make their entire dinner on the dessert. One is apt to think such children are not accustomed to dainties in their own homes, or they would not be so greedy for them.

We should never say, "I don't like that," if something is offered we do not wish to eat, but simply decline it beforehand or leave it upon our plates without remark; and under no circumstances should we criticise what is on the table.

There is a proper, graceful way to handle napkin, knife, fork, and spoon, and we should study to learn this way and to avoid the clumsy awkwardness in these little things that marks the person unused to good society.

To eat fast is one of the bad habits of American people which we ought to avoid. If acquired in childhood, it will be hard to overcome, and will cause us much mortification when, later in life, we find ourselves with empty plates long before well-bred people in the company have finished theirs. Since we do not leave the table before others, there is nothing gained, even in time, while much is lost in health and in good manners.
– From Edith E. Wiggin's 1884, “Lessons on Manners / For School and Home Use.”


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Monday, May 16, 2016

Etiquette and Edwardian Gents

A gentleman will borrow nothing from the fashions of the groom or the game keeper, and, while avoiding the frivolity and foolish vanity of dandyism, will take care that his clothes are of the best quality, well made and suitable to his rank and position."


Rules for Making of a "Gentleman"

Conditions Have Changed Since the Time of Lord Chesterfield 

"The appearance, deportment, and dress of a gentleman consist perhaps more in the absence of certain offenses against good taste, and in a careful avoidance of vulgarities and exaggerations of any kind, however generally they may be the fashion of the day than in the adherence to general rules which can be exactly laid down. 

A gentleman will borrow nothing from the fashions of the groom or the game keeper, and, while avoiding the frivolity and foolish vanity of dandyism, will take care that his clothes are of the best quality, well made and suitable to his rank and position." This passage is not taken from one of Lord Chesterfield's letters to his son as some people might imagine, says Phillip Gibbs in the London Chronicle. 

It is an extract from a confidential memorandum drawn up by Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort for the guidance of the gentlemen appointed to attend on the Prince of Wales, and published now in the remarkable article on the character of King Edward VII in the current Quarterly. 

These rules for his habits, dress, deportment, manners, conversation, studies and amusements seem to belong to the eighteenth, rather than to the nineteenth—and not at all to the twentieth —century. We can not imagine parents of today, however exalted their rank may be, sitting down to dictate such a code of etiquette for on their sons. 

As Moliere's character remarked. "Nous avons change tout cela"—we have changed all that. Our sons would not tolerate such dictation. They would retaliate by satirical advice upon the good behavior of parents. The word "deportment" has dropped out of the language. It has no living meaning. 

The word gentleman is getting a little rusty for the want of use. It is only in second rate suburban schools that masters call their pupils young gentlemen. Boys is a good enough word for Eton and Harrow. We no longer call a man a fine gentleman. He is a good fellow. The truth is, we are not so anxious now about our gentility. If, we have it, we take it for granted. We do not cherish it in ourselves or in our sons as a bloom or polish, which may be easily rubbed off by vulgar contact.

As for a code of etiquette— it belongs to archaeology. We have no manners nowadays. "A gentleman" writes Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, "does not indulge in careless, self indulgent, lounging ways, such as lolling, in armchairs or on sofas, slouching in his gait or placing himself in unbecoming attitudes, with his hands in his pockets or in any position in which he appears to consult more the case of the moment than the maintenance of the decorum which is characteristic of the polished gentleman." 

That may; have been true 40 years ago, it is untrue now, for a gentleman will stand in any drawing room with his hands in his pockets and even lounge upon a sofa, without being accused of ill breeding. The very term polished gentleman gives one a little shudder. 

The test of a gentleman nowadays is to be natural and free and easy in any social set. Even the fashions of the groom and the game keeper do not shock his sensibilities. In spite of Queen Victoria, he has borrowed a little from both. "Since every Jack becomes a gentleman, there's many a gentle person made a Jack." So Shakespeare said three centuries I ago, and since Shakespeare's time, the process has continued apace. — San Francisco Call, 1911


Etiquette Enthusiast Maura J Graber is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia