Proper Etiquette Expected of Students in the 1930’s

29 04 2013

72jpeg thumbnailEtiquette is something that most people do not think about in today’s age. Most of us know not to place our elbows on the table or chew with our mouths open. Those are really the only “etiquette rules” we observe in our daily lives. In the 1930s, it was common for students to be given a guidebook at the beginning of the year outlining proper procedure for all situations one might encounter on campus. Situations outlined include campus life, tea parties, dates, and formal dances. Table manners, order of introduction, and how to be agreeable are all covered extensively.

According to the manuals, which can be seen in collections on the On the Banks website, the worst thing for a girl was to be overdressed or be 72dpipageforblogsloppy in appearance. Women were also warned not to be too exotic in their every day wear; that woolen dresses and oxfords would put college men more at ease and therefore, make them more approachable. Men were told that baggy pants, unshaven faces, and “Tarzan” haircuts would not win them favor with the coeds and should be avoided. Overall, the biggest piece of advice offered to students was that, “Your personal appearance is one of the most important factors of your success on campus.”

Below are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you are a proper lady/gentleman by the manuals standards:

Do you greet people with a “How do you do?” or “Good Morning?”

Do you seem friendly while on campus?

Are you punctual?

Do you set up meetings with professors ahead of time?

Do you knock at doors before entering?

Do you hold doors for people behind you?

Ladies, do you thank men for holding the door for you?

Men, do you rise when a woman enters the room? Do you remain standing until she is seated?

Do you know the situations under which gum chewing is not in order?

Do you chew toothpicks in the privacy of your own room?

Do you speak in an agreeable voice?

Do you avoid gossip?

Do you save thirty seconds and ruin the grass by cutting across campus?

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8 06 2013
Plaque with Laurel | Dinner at Caphs

[…] sue if the character had shared my name. I think this is in part because what would be considered polite behaviour in 1937 is markedly different at times from what we might think today. It’s also a function of the fact […]

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