Lessons for LIFE: UMD Manners Guide Gets National Attention

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.

Fashion choices and fraternity pins--just a few of the guidelines given to Maryland coeds in 1941.  Featured in LIFE magazine, February 17, 1941.
Fashion choices and fraternity pins–just a few of the guidelines given to Maryland coeds in 1941. Featured in LIFE magazine, February 17, 1941. Click to enlarge.


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.

Life Dos and Donts 2
Behavior tips for studying, dining, dancing, and dating.  LIFE magazine, February 17, 1941.  Click to enlarge.

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.

Life Dos and Donts 3
From a former coed: Maryland’s Dean of Women in 1941, Adele Stamp, had a personal dislike of open-toed shoes, because she thought toes were “sexy.”  LIFE magazine, February 17, 1941.

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.

Life Dos and Donts 4
For a guide to being well-behaved, some of these ‘suggestions’ don’t make much sense.  And remember that if you do smoke, try to look like a sweater-wearing pirate.  LIFE magazine, February 17, 1941.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s