Etiquette and Behavior for Children


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Holly Peterson

Guest
I am currently writing a story/diary from the perspective of a fictional 11-year old girl on the Titanic. She is in the lower middle class and hails from London, England. I was wondering how a child of this age and upbringing would act. Would she still be more childish, allowed to run about on deck and play, or would she act more like a young woman, with hair up and long skirts? What kind of toys would she play with? Also, what kind of etiquette (spelling?) would she have to follow? Any help would be much appreciated (as would a review on my Titanic poetry page, but I'm not getting my hopes up...)
 

Ben Lemmon

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Oct 9, 2009
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I would think that a child that old would act more like a young woman. I would look at that book you have, Titanic: Women and Children First. It may give you a general idea of how an 11-year old girl would act. I used the same method for my story about an 8-year old boy who goes on the Titanic. I based his views on what appropriate behavior is by researching Marshall Drew and talking to Bob Godfrey. He was actually there! No I'm kidding. Almost, though
happy.gif
. I would definitely get a hold of Bob if he hasn't responded in a day or so. However, Bob is very punctual and usually answers these types of questions promptly.
 
May 1, 2004
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If you live in Toronto, the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books at Lillian Smith Branch has three etiquette books - Reference Only.

Call #BI TYN

A little book of courtesies
By: Tynan, Katharine, 1861-1931.
Publisher: J.M. Dent & Co. ;
Year of publication: [1906]

Call # SA ORR
Miss Manners
By: Orr, Aileen.
Publisher: Andrew Melrose,
Year of publication: 1909

Blue Goops and red : a manual of polite deportment for children who would be good showing how & how not to behave everywhere : with illustrations
By: Burgess, Gelett, 1866-1951.
Publisher: Frederick A. Stokes Company,
Year of publication: c1909.

Gelett Burgess wrote a series of books about the Goops from 1900-1909. All were published in the US

The Toronto Reference Library has 20 etiquette books published between 1890 and 1920. Judging from the titles, the may have been written for adults, but there may be a section on how to teach manners to children. Table manners would have been the same, I'm sure.

Your own library may not have those titles [They are old.], but this shows there were etiquette manuals written for children.

The catalogue can be accessed on line at www.torontopubliclibrary.ca
, then click the collections button, then advanced search, then type [subject line] etiquette and [years of publication line] 1890 - 1920.
 
Jul 11, 2010
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If she's 11, she would be in that awkward stage where she wasn't considered a child, but wasn't yet an adult. "Childhood" and "adolescence" as we know it didn't exist then. You must also take her social status in consideration as well--were her parents social climbers? Or overly concerned with propriety? She would most likely be very restricted, and a governess or governess-nurse would be with her as chaperone and teacher. And being in that awkward stage, she would be expected to begin to behave as the adult she would be considered to be in five years. No running around and acting wild--even little children were not to do that. And she wouldn't put her hair up and wear ankle-length skirts until about 16.
 
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Holly Peterson

Guest
Thanks, Evangeline, for the information - it was very useful. And welcome to Encyclopedia Titanica!
 

Ben Lemmon

Member
Oct 9, 2009
525
1
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Holly, it is time for some constructive criticism. I have no ill will against you, but in my experience on board Encyclopedia Titanica, you should thank everyone for their information, simply not those ones who gave you the information that you "liked the most." Just because some posters may be retired, don't believe that they have all the time in the world to respond to your whimsical questions. If they still have a career to provide for themselves or families, you should thank them tenfold. They took out time from their busy schedules to respond to your question, but you have decided to thank the one person who gave you the most useful information. Marilyn looked up that information for you, but you didn't even think to thank her. Also, I think that everyone knows that you have poetry waiting to be critiqued, but maybe they simply don't feel like it's in their place to critique poetry. If you really want someone to critique it, PM Jim Kalafus. He has a background in Journalistic English. Again, I am not trying to put you down, I just want you to know what I had to learn the hard way. Everyone likes to be thanked, not simply the ones who feel like they've given you the best information.
 

jemmahazie

Member
Sep 8, 2013
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If she's 11, she would be in that awkward stage where she wasn't considered a child, but wasn't yet an adult. "Childhood" and "adolescence" as we know it didn't exist then. You must also take her social status in consideration as well--were her parents social climbers? Or overly concerned with propriety? She would most likely be very restricted, and a governess or governess-nurse would be with her as chaperone and teacher. And being in that awkward stage, she would be expected to begin to behave as the adult she would be considered to be in five years. No running around and acting wild--even little children were not to do that. And she wouldn't put her hair up and wear ankle-length skirts until about 16.
This is as detailed as you can get, hit right on mark.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
If it's any use to you:

My mother and aunts on both sides of the family as well as those of my wife were variously from 6 years old to 26 years old at the time of the Titanic. My mother had 4 sisters, my father 4 sisters. My wife's mother was from a family of 14, 9 of whom were girls. All these young ladies were brought up in strict Victorian times. They often talked about their childhood.
If father was having a nap after dinner, everyone crept round the house like mice. Church was attended by the entire family at least twice on a Sunday. Even in my day, the next generation, children were 'seen and not heard' Most young people left school at age 14 and were considered a child if under that age. Youth lasted from 14 to 21 years of age. There was none of the market-driven 16 and 18 year old nonsense that saps parental coffers nowadays.
Little girls and boys did not run about unsupervised as they do today. Church and good manners (table and otherwise) were of paramount importance. Children did not interrupt adults and normally asked permission to do most things. Girls were brought up to be 'young ladies' and boys to be 'gentlemen'. Correct social attitudes were very important; they were designed to tell the world where you ranked in society. People were described as 'upper-crust' or being 'out of the top drawer'. Personally, I think that the world went pear-shaped after 1965.

Poverty (except the abject kind) was no barrier to good manners. Each level of society strived to seem like two at least two levels above. The result was often some very bizarre notions and behaviour. There is an excellent BBC TV Sketch depicting British attitudes pre 1965. It features John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. Well worth a look and will most certainly raise a laugh.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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UK
I've often posted this breakdown before (and in more detail) but it might be useful as background info for this thread though not strictly relevant to the original question posed.

In 1912 in England the law recognised four basic age classifications:

From birth to 11 years old you were a child.
From 12-15 you were a 'young person' - generally out of school and working by the age of 13.
From 16 -20 you were an adult but also a 'minor'.
At 21 you reached the age of majority and were accorded all adult rights and responsibilites.

The Law protected the first two groups - children and young people - from exploitation by adult society, though not of course to the extent it does today. Those aged 16-20 lost most of this protection and the Law strived instead to protect society (as well as these 'minor' adults themselves) from problems created by their inexperience and poor judgement. They were denied the right to vote, for instance, or to incorporate a business or to marry without parental consent.

In practice the legal distinctions were more complex in detail and did not necessarily coincide precisely with social distinctions, but they are a good guideline. For many people, reaching the age of 21 was of limited significance as, for instance, women would still have no right to vote and most men would never have the opportunity to become employers. The key distinction was between those aged under 16 and the rest. At 16 a boy became a man, at least in the eyes of the law. If he hadn't already, he adopted an adult style of dress. He drew a man's wages and could enjoy most of the pleasures and vices that the adult world had to offer. Above all, he considered himself to have crossed a threshold and become a man. Young women matured quicker, then as now, and many were required to take on the responsibilites of looking after their younger siblings long before the age of 16. For the minority who didn't need to work for a living, and especially in families where nobody needed to work, the situation was rather different and earlier postings in this thread give a better idea of what was expected of 'young ladies'.
 

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