In 1941, numerous University of Maryland students were featured in LIFE magazine. Not for an athletic or academic achievement, however–but for their manners.
LIFE featured students from Maryland acting out instructions from “To Do Or Not To Do,” an etiquette guide handed out to all 1,176 female students on the UMD campus. This publication was the creation of the Women’s League, a division of the Student Government Association concerned with social functions, charity work, and “to enforce observation of those rules and regulations deemed necessary.” Rules on how to dress, how to conduct one’s self at various events, when to smoke, eat, or even say hello were proscribed in the slim volume that helped guide coed life.
Etiquette guides were not unique to Maryland, and whether you believe that they encouraged good behavior, lockstep conformity (or even both), they were a mainstay on college campuses from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Indeed, “To Do or Not To Do” was succeeded in the 1950s on the Maryland campus by “Information Please,” another handbook of rules, regulations, and etiquette. It lasted until 1967.
One wonders what the students of the 1930s would have done had they had access to smart phones and computers, leggings and sweatshirts, hookahs and e-cigarettes. Regardless, we’re sure there would have been rules.