The guides to conduct and etiquette manuals that were so popular in mid-nineteenth century America offered explicit instructions on how one should dress, move, speak, and interact with others. Those books described how to behave in a restrained, orderly fashion in order to be part of a "civilized" society. Paradoxically, at the same time, these guides often preached that a real Christian "gentleman" or "lady" should simply act naturally, as true gentility is a sincere reflection of the individual's Christian's "right heart."
Available at The Making of America Site:
The student's manual; designed, by specific directions, to aid in forming and strengthening the intellectual and moral character and habits of the student. By Rev. John Todd ...
Publication Date: 1859
Mile stones in our life-journey. By Samuel Osgood.
Publication Date: 1877
Man and his motives, By George Moore
Publication Date: 1862
The American citizen: his rights and duties, according to the spirit of the Constitution of the United States. By John Henry Hopkins.
Publication Date: 1857
Plain talks on familiar subjects. A series of popular lectures. By J. G. Holland.
Publication Date: 1866
Familiar letters to young men on various subjects. Designed as a companion to The young man's guide. by Wm. A. Alcott. Publication Date: 1850
Lesson's in life A series of familiar essays. By Timothy Titcomb [pseud.]. Publication Date: 1862
Excerpts from "Nineteenth Century Advice Literature" Courtesy of the Worcester Women's History Project:
William Andrus Alcott. The Boy's Guide to Usefulness. Boston: 1844.
--------. The Young Wife. Boston:1842.
--------. The Young Woman's Guide. Boston: 1840.
--------. The Young Man's Guide. Boston: 1846.
Bean, James. Advice to a Married Couple. American Tract Society. Boston: 1856.
Arthur Freeling. The Young Bride's Book. New York: 1849.
Mrs. Louisa C. Tuthill. The Young Lady's Home. Boston: 1847.
The Young Man's Evening Book. Boston: 1838.
By a Gentleman. Advice to a Young Gentleman on Entering Society. Philadelphia: 1839.
The Young Ladies' Book: A Manual of Elegant Recreations, Exercises and Pursuits. Boston: 1830.
By a Lady. The Young Wife's Book: A Manual of Moral, Religious and Domestic Duties. Philadelphia: 1838.
Familiar letters to young men on various subjects. Designed as a companion to The young man's guide. by Wm. A. Alcott
Secondary Resources for Additional Study:
Learning to Behave
Rudeness and Civility
"Sentimental Culture and the Problem of Etiquette" in Karen Haltunnen's Confidence Men and Painted Women