Answers from Emily Jaycox

Report on Ms. Jaycox’s presentation Nov. 20, 2013:

Presentation was given on Nov. 20, 2013 by Emily Troxell Jaycox of the Missouri History Museum.

Presentation was given on Nov. 20, 2013 by Emily Troxell Jaycox of the Missouri History Museum.


Emily Jaycox presented her talk How Rude! The Changing Forms of Polite Behavior on Wednesday, October 20, 2013. She lead off her talk by explaining how we know about manners in the past and where that information is available to us from our memories, visual sources such as photos, illustrations and paintings, written records in diaries, journals and literature, and finally in instructional tracts and books.

She gave us a bird’s eye view of how American manners differed from European; Europe being class bound and American being egalitarian. But she made clear that the appeal to the desire for higher class and taste is still continued in the US by up-selling us to the better lady or gentleman that we should want to be. That includes fashion, the sale of books on manners, debutant balls and better sales techniques. She completed her talk by pointing out that manners swing as a pendulum from formal to informal.

Throughout her talk she illustrated her points with many examples of manners that ran the range from quaint, foreign and unknown to us today, to manners that we would find disgusting and revolting. Included in the latter group would be dueling, spitting and maybe handkerchieves which as we know have been largely replaced you tissues. Dueling was ended by prohibiting lawyers and politicians from practicing their professions if they engaged in dueling. Spitting was largely ended by the practice of chewing gum. Examples of manners we might find quaint or foreign are wearing formal hats and bowing, and protecting women from cigarette smoke. Other manners little known to us today are letters of introduction and calling day. To learn more about these manners, please come hear Emily speak again when she presents her talk at Friendship Village Sunset Hills in February.

The following graphic refers to the date Ms. Jaycox’s presentation for the SCHS daytime presentation series at Tesson Ferry library in the fall of 2013. See Upcoming SCHS Events for the information on Ms. Jaycox’s presentation at Friendship Village.

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