News From Terre Haute, Indiana


October 14, 2012

HISTORICAL TREASURE: The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette And Manual of Politeness

TERRE HAUTE — How would a man of the 19th century behave if he had to go to a ball or attend a formal dinner? What if he had just moved across country and was trying to integrate himself into the high society of his new home, where would he turn? To relieve the anxiety of making a social faux pas an enterprising gentleman might have consulted a book such as this week’s historical treasure. The book’s full title says it all: The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness; Being a complete guide for a gentleman’s conduct in all his relations toward society. Containing rules for the etiquette to be observed in the street, at table, in the ball-room, evening party, and morning call; with full directions for polite correspondence, dress, conversation, manly exercises and accomplishments. From the best French, English, and American authorities. The book was published in Boston by DeWolfe, Fiske & Co. in 1873 and is 332 pages long. That’s quite a lot of etiquette for a gentleman to remember.

While a potential reader might have fears that the writing of this manual would be dry and rigid, the opposite is the case. The author, Cecil B. Hartley, has a lively voice and interesting insights into why the numerous rules he lays out are important. Reading the book critically with a historical perspective gives a fascinating picture of what upper class male society in mid-19th century America was like and what they cared about. It can also make for amusing reading. I’ll leave you with a bit of parting advice from Mr. Hartley, “The first step towards pleasing every one is to endeavor to offend no one.”

The book of etiquette can be found on the second floor of the Vigo County Historical Museum in the bedroom, resting on a night stand. Seeing the display, it is possible to imagine that a gentleman had just put the book and his reading glasses down to go to sleep. And if any readers wish to actually peruse the book the text can be found online at:, once on the website, search for the book’s title.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Suspect Dead, Marshals and Cop Wounded in NYC The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Raw: Sirens After Explosions in Israel
NDN Video
NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now!

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010