Emily Post on Table Manners

You can find anything on YouTube these days, and I was amused to find this particular video by esteemed American etiquette author, Emily Post.

Post, the daughter of a famed Gilded Age architect, turned to the thornier issues of etiquette in the wake of her scandalous divorce from banker Edwin Post in the early 1900s. You may read more about her rise to prominence in Laura Claridge’s elegant biography, Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners and read her famed 1922 best-seller, Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home online!


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5 replies on “Emily Post on Table Manners”
  1. says: helenw

    The first is a super reference, thank you. I liked two expressions in the editor’s summary:
    1. people were “hungry for guidance in social and familial situations” and
    2. “Post equated etiquette with character and ensured a democratization of manners.”

    In other words, Post was providing an important reference book for ordinary, literate citizens.

    1. Precisely. And in an upwardly mobile American society, people were anxious to know how to do things the “right” way. I had a good chuckle watching this video because Post’s etiquette was geared towards the solid and respectable American middle class, yet today, knowing how to dine and use various utensils has returned to being a marker of the “upper class”.

  2. says: Louise Michie

    This clip was charming. It highlighted for me the cultural differences between various groups. While Emily Post’s advice was appropriate for her circle she would have been unwelcome had she eaten this way in our home. Extremely offensive table manners!!! Nowadays we have so many different customs to accommodate in our daily lives, because our society is multicultural. No doubt Emily Post would have failed dismally at eating noodles with chopsticks just as she would have failed in polite greetings when meeting Ethiopian ladies with no children. She never understood that her way was not the only the right way.

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