Etiquette and conduct books are highly significant resources for social history. Going back hundreds of years, this genre records expectations for behavior and ideals for social interaction as they evolve over time.
While rules of etiquette can be employed as gatekeeping ("Do you know which fork to use at a formal dinner?") many have the goal of showing courtesy to the people around you.
For example, suggestions on how to introduce people to each other are meant to help the two new acquaintances feel comfortable starting a conversation.
Conduct books are sometimes prescriptive, and older works may be concerned with upholding gendered and class-specific social roles.
Ruth Ann Jones
MSU Libraries, Special Collections
The most-used subject headings for books in this genre are:
There's a fair amount of overlap in the content, so they're discussed together in this resource guide.
To get a broad view of the collection, go to the library catalog Advanced Search page (1)
Suppose you're looking for conduct books to understand social expectations for women ibefore and during the first women's rights convention in the U.S., held in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848.
You could modify the above search to add the term women (4) and to limit publication dates to 1800-1850 (5)