University of Delaware Library - Special Collections Department

Modern Method of Regulating The Modern Method of Regulating and Forming a Table Explained and Displayed: Containing a Great Variety of Dinners Laid out in the Most Elegant Taste. London: Printed for J. Hughes, circa 1780.

Meant for a home with a large staff of servants, Modern Method illustrates table settings for dinners with as many as twenty-one courses of twenty-one dishes. Each dinner is illustrated by a copper-engraved illustration of the table setting.

Book of Good Manners

A Book of Good Manners, for Girls and Boys. Providence: Geo. P. Daniels, 1845.

Books such as A Book of Good Manners were often given as rewards of merits or prizes for good behavior in school or Sunday school. Stories of morally upright children are used to illustrate correct behavior.

The American Letter-writer, and Mirror of Polite Behaviour. Philadelphia: Fisher & Brother, 1851.

The American Letter-writer includes a wide variety of sample letters for home and business as well as chapters on conduct and behavior.

The New Parlor Letter Writer. Auburn, Alden, Beardsley, 1854.

Sample letters in an ornate style including proposals of marriage, letters from a suitor to his beloved's father, and the father's response are included.

Ladies' Vase: or, Polite Manual for Young Ladies, by an American lady. Lowell: N. L. Dayton, 1843.

This small guidebook on etiquette and health is produced in an inexpensive format to make it widely available to readers of modest means. While covering the usual topics of letter writing, conversation, and religion, Ladies' Vase also takes a strong stand against the extremes of fashion. The author blames pulmonary disease and insanity on the tight-laced corsets of fashionable dress.

How to Behave

George H. Sandison.
How to Behave and How to Amuse: A Handy Manual of Etiquette and Parlor Games. New York: Christian Herald, 1895.

How to Behave includes topics such as behavior in church, dozing in public, and monopolizing conversations. How to Amuse describes games and riddles, magic tricks, and hypnotism. There is much emphasis on the wholesomeness of these activities as opposed to dancing and other questionable pastimes.

Illustrated Manners Book

The Illustrated Manners Book; A Manual of Good Behavior and Polite Accomplishments. New York: Leland, Clay, & Co., 1855.

The Illustrated Manners Book is based on the etiquette columns of the illustrated monthly magazine The Dime. The book is more interesting for its illustrations than its text. Many of the wood-engravings were done by young women who were students at the New York Female School of Design, an art school for women.


Emily Post's Etiquette. The Blue Book of Social Usage. NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1945.

Post was born into a wealthy family and began her literary career as a novelist. Her best-known book Etiquette, first published in 1922, is a practical guide to proper social behavior written in a lively style. Post viewed etiquette not as a collection of details, but as a way of living: "Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality-the outward manifestation of one's innate character and attitude toward life."

Senator J. Allen Frear, Jr. Papers.

Calling cards and invitations sent to Louis Alexander Biddle (b. 1863). This group of cards and invitations represents the active social life of a member of a prominent Philadelphia family at the end of the nineteenth century.

Biddle Family Papers.

Photograph and party ephemera of Anna Beebe, 1916.

Anna Elizabeth Beebe (1898-1990) was born to a prominent Lewes, Delaware family. She was eighteen years old when she planned this April Fools Day party for her friends. Beebe was educated at the Women's College of Delaware and taught for many years at Lewes High School.

The magazine Ladies Home Journal offered readers free party guides that included sample invitations, games, and menus.

Anna Beebe Papers.

Invitations and Calling Cards Invitations and calling cards of Alice Dunbar Nelson.

Alice Dunbar Nelson (1875-1935) was a writer, journalist, teacher, and social activist. She was a teacher and administrator at Howard High School in Wilmington and co-editor and publisher of the Wilmington Advocate, a progressive African American newspaper. She reached a wide audience through her journalism and was in demand as a public speaker, delivering numerous lectures and speeches on political, social, and cultural topics.

Alice Dunbar Nelson Papers.

National Capital Code

Edward S. Green.
National Capital Code of Etiquette. Washington: A. Jenkins Co., 1920.

From the end of Reconstruction until after the First World War, Washington D. C. was the center of the African American upper class in the United States. Dubbed the "Negro Four Hundred" by the Washington Bee, the capital's principal Black newspaper of the era, this group exerted an influence far beyond its numbers. The National Capital Code was geared for the middle-class African American family in other parts of the country who sought to feel more comfortable in social situations.

Charlotte Hawkins Brown, 1883-1961.
The Correct Think To Do - To Say - To Wear. NY: G. K. Hall & Co., 1995 [reprint].

Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown was a noted African American lecturer, teacher, and community activist who was the founder and president of Palmer Memorial Institute, a nationally recognized boarding school for African American young people. The Correct Thing is a small encyclopedia of manners and correct behavior. The book, originally published in 1940, went through five printings and was used by many schools and social clubs throughout the country. Dr. Brown felt that African Americans needed to know how to handle social situations comfortably once they obtained the opportunities that they were struggling to achieve through politics and education.

How to Behave

Emily Post, 1873-1960.
How to Behave--Though a Débutante; illustrated by John Held, Jr. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1928.

This is a lighthearted approach to etiquette for the young "flappers" of the Roaring Twenties. John Held, Jr. chronicled the social world of the Jazz Age in his popular cartoons.

Ida White Parker.
Office Etiquette for Business Women. NY: The Ronald Press Co., 1924.

Office Etiquette, written by the assistant editor of the magazine The Business Woman, is a courtesy guide for secretaries, telephone operators, and receptionists.

Can I Help You?

Viola Tree, 1884-1938.
Can I Help You? Your Manners--Menus--Amusements--Friends--Charades--Make-ups--Travel--Calling--Children--Love Affairs. London: L. and Virginia Woolf, 1937.

Viola Tree was a stage and screen actress and singer, best know for her portrayals of Shakespearean heroines. Can I Help You is an early example of the celebrity advice book since Tree, was well-known as an actress and beauty, not as a writer.

Hogarth Press Collection.

Complete Book of Engagement and Wedding Etiquette

Barbara Wilson.
The Complete Book of Engagement and Wedding Etiquette. NY: Hawthorne Books, 1959.

A very detailed guide to wedding etiquette arranged as a series of questions and answers.

Senator J. Allen Frear, Jr. Papers

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