Etiquette of the 1860s

1. Ladies should refer to the gentlemen as “Mr.” and not by their first name or surname.  While in public these conversations should even be shown towards her spouse.

2. For gentlemen address a married lady as “Mrs.”; unmarried lady as “Miss”.  Address his wife as “Mrs.”

3. When addressing a military officer, a person should refer to him as to his rank.  When in doubt, use “Mr.” (i.e., Captain Smith or Mr. Smith).

4. Look and listen to the person whom you are speaking to.

5. Never walk away from someone or a conversation without first saying “excuse me”, or “I beg your pardon.”

6. While in public when a gentleman sees a lady he knows, he should tip his hat and nod a greeting to her saying: “Good day, Ma’am”, “Ma’am”, or ”Good day, Mrs. Alison.”  It is then up to the lady if she desires to return the courtesy with either a nod or stopping to engage in conversation with the gentleman.

7. A gentleman never shakes a lady’s hand in public unless she offers her hand first.

8. If a lady has a veil drawn over her face (whether widows weeds or a fashionable traveling veil), a gentleman should respect her privacy by simply nodding, lifting his hat and walking on.

9. If a gentleman sees a lady carrying parcels or baggage, offer to carry them for for even if she is a stranger.  It will then be up to the lady if she wishes to recognize you, should you meet again.

10. Gentleman should always offer his seat for a lady.

11. Gentleman should offer to pickup a dropped object or ask if she needs assistance.

12. Ladies should NEVER smoke in public; it is unfeminine.

13. A lady always walks or dances to her left side of the gentleman.  While walking do not link arms, but instead, the lady should rest her left hand on his right hand.

14. A gentlemen always extends his right hand to the lady and places his left hand behind his back while escorting her to and from the dance floor.

15. While walking in a crowded room, a gentleman should always work in front of the lady to clear her path of obstacles or to find an available chair for her.

16. While walking on a stairways, a gentleman will walk in front of lady in order to break her fall and not to overstep on her gown.

17. If a gentleman is in a hurry and needs to pass in front of a lady, he should tip his hat and say, “Pardon me” or “With your permission.”

18. If a lady directs a question to a gentleman, he should lift his hat as an acknowledgment of her and answer her question at once.  If he does not have the requested information, he should express his regrets by saying, “I regret I do not have the answer, Ma’am.”

19. A special note to remember: If in the course of conversation, a lady repeatedly interjects the word “Sir” at the end of the sentence, she is being exceptionally reserved towards the gentleman.  It is usually a sign that she does not desire his acquaintance; she is merely being polite.