An Introduction to Etiquette and Mrs. Emily Post

Much to my pleasant surprise, my poll from my long weekend post showed me that etiquette is in fact interesting to a lot of people! If I’m being honest, I could probably write a weekly etiquette post but I understand that most people don’t need quite that much etiquette. So, I will be sharing the highlights and big points in key areas of etiquette that we all experience at some point in our lives: day to day life, work/ business, big/ formal events, and travel. Today is an introduction to etiquette in general and where I get my information/ ideas from, mainly Mrs. Emily Post!

An Introductionto Etiquette

Etiquette is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group”. Although many people will claim that etiquette only makes things more difficult, it actually serves to make the largest group of people feel comfortable in a given situation, not to simply formalise things. For people who struggle with difficulty in social situations, being familiar with etiquette can actually help ease concern and apprehension as there is some understanding of what theoretically should happen. I appreciate knowing that when I am planning a major event, I should be sending out invitations 6-12 weeks ahead of time, and not finding that out after the timeline has well passed.

Emily Post Etiquette

Who is Emily Post? 

Technically the question should be, who was Emily Post, as the original Emily Post lived from 1872 to 1960. She began writing on various topics in women’s magazines, and then in 1922 wrote her first book on etiquette. She continued to release updated versions of her book as society and etiquette evolved, and also wrote columns and spoke on the radio offering etiquette advice. In the 1940s she founded the Emily Post Institute which is led by Peter Post, her great grandson, and his wife, Peggy Post. The Institute continues to update her etiquette manual, and promotes the use of good manners and etiquette around the world.

Etiquette Resources 

There are countless resources for etiquette, some more broad and some more specific. One reason that I tend to gravitate towards the Emily Post Institute is because they really do show the flexibility in etiquette. It does focus on Western etiquette but they do note when cultural etiquette differs and if you should seek out additional advice. You can purchase Emily Post’s Manner’s in a New World in physical, e-book, and audiobook format if you want to dive in! (It’s quite interesting and is broken up into smaller sections, if you like short reading spurts.) It’s nice to have read it ahead of time before a situation actually occurs but also works well as a reference in the moment.

Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning are the great-great-grandchildren of Emily Post and their Awesome Etiquette podcast is one of my favourite things to listen to in my week! Once a week, this hour long podcast answers listener questions and discusses different etiquette related topics to help us all through this confusing modern world. They are late thirties/early forties, so I think that most of us can relate to them- it really shatters the image of the dodgy old women yelling at you about etiquette.


Here to Help!

The whole point of this series is to hopefully help with etiquette dilemmas and show that etiquette isn’t a stuffy, stodgy, old-fashioned way of doing things but rather a living, evolving set of guidelines to help us all make our way in the world with the least amount of friction. If you have any specific etiquette questions, please feel free to leave them in a comment, use my Contact page, or send me an email at! And please share any funny etiquette related stories you might have.

The series will be posted every second Sunday, and will cover etiquette related to daily life, work, big life events, travel, and any other areas that you would like covered! (Heads up: I probably won’t be covering weddings. Although I know that a lot of etiquette questions relate to weddings in some way, I’ve no experience with them and I don’t want to advise incorrectly.)

What about etiquette simply baffles you? 

Until tomorrow,
The Historian
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13 thoughts on “An Introduction to Etiquette and Mrs. Emily Post

  1. April Munday February 25, 2018 / 7:32 am

    I was interested that you mentioned ‘Western Etiquette’, because I’m not sure that such a thing exists. What’s ‘correct behaviour’ in the UK might not be in France, and vice versa.


    • anhistorianabouttown February 25, 2018 / 7:39 am

      We can always subdivide into smaller categories in anything we do, if we look for it. You could say that you are studing British history in the eighteenth century- someone studying Scottish history in the same period will argue that it isn’t a cohesive history to study.

      There are general modes of behaviour that follow larger areas than country lines- for example, the amount of personal space that someone in western Europe might expect and prefer is far different from someone perhaps in Asia. Between the UK and France? Not much of a difference there. Many things do divide with countries, but there are very general behaviours that vary less between countries in a similar region! (Stark changes in neighbouring countries tend to be related to a different religion or a radically different structure of government.) Europe is also quite interesting etiquette-wise, as the flow of people in the EU has seen behaviours and traditions change and evolve! It’s fascinating to think about ☺

      Liked by 1 person

    • lady sarah in london February 25, 2018 / 12:19 pm

      Very true, but there is a lot of common ground say among European countries whilst for instance Japanese or middle eastern manners can be be very different. Living in London in close proximity with various ethnicities and nationalities I can think of many scary examples.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Jennifer February 25, 2018 / 8:28 am

    Wow. Emily Post. Hadn’t thought about her in years. Although she died before I was born in 61, you can be sure that I heard all about her and etiquette while I was growing up. More often than not, it was how I was not following it, but hey…I was a kid.


    • anhistorianabouttown February 25, 2018 / 9:44 pm

      That’s the beauty of childhood- everything is exciting and even though you might say something mean or inappropriate, most people don’t care!! But alas, we all get forced into adulthood whether we want it or not 😡


  3. tahenryauthoress February 25, 2018 / 10:26 am

    I got into an argument just last week with a friend who didn’t think it was necessary to tell me she no longer needed my help on something. (I found out from an inanimate object and was rather peeved.)
    I suppose my etiquette question is why more people can’t simply think of the kindest way to treat others and then do so?


    • anhistorianabouttown February 25, 2018 / 9:32 pm

      That’s exactly what etiquette SHOULD be!! Whether or not you send an invitation to something at 3 or 4 weeks, it is to give your guest enough time to organise things!! And you should greet people as the hostess of a party because it makes people feel like they important and well thought of. I think in this day and age, it’s all about Me and not really about You…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chomeuse with a Chou March 1, 2018 / 6:59 am

    This is such a great idea for a series! I find etiquette (particularly etiquette from previous centuries) to be absolutely fascinating. I had never heard of Emily post before though and will look her up in more detail!


    • anhistorianabouttown March 5, 2018 / 11:36 am

      I’m so glad that you are enjoying it!! It can be fascinating to wander through the centuries and see what we “should” be doing when- even going back 50-75 years! I really wish that calling cards would come back into style, I think that it is a lovely idea 🙂 The next installment will be this Sunday, fyi! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chomeuse with a Chou March 5, 2018 / 12:00 pm

        Calling cards were the best! Ooh, thanks. I’m following so it should be easy to spot 🙂


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