Tuesday, November 15, 2005


From the American Memory project of the Library of Congress, 19th century self-help and self-improvement documents. Two in particular seem worth noting.

How to Be a Lady: A Book for Girls, Containing Useful Hints on the Formation of Character (1850).

To be a lady, one must always behave with propriety; and be civil, courteous, and kind to all. To treat any human being with rudeness, would show a want of breeding of which no lady would be guilty. But the romping, roisterous miss, who pays no regard to propriety of conduct, will never be a lady. You will not, however, misunderstand me. Do not suppose that I would have you dull and mopish, never manifesting any gayety of spirit or playfulness of conduct; but, in all these things, I would have you behave with strict regard to propriety. (p. 10)

The author is not a lady: his name is Harvey Newcomb.

Plain Talk and Friendly Advice to Domestics: With Counsel on Home Matters (1855).

The author of this book, who describes herself as a married women neither too young nor too old to dispense such advice, chose to remain anonymous.

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