Mid-century manners

Betty Betz was born March 28, 1920 into a prominent business family in Hammond, Ind. Her grandfather, Frank Betz, was the founder of the Frank S. Betz Company in Hammond which specialized in surgical instruments. Betty attended Sarah Lawrence College where she graduated in 1941. She then went on to a successful career as a nationally syndicated columnist whose writing focused on the social lives of American adolescents. Her newspaper columns, magazine articles and television show (which briefly ran in 1951) covered many topics of interest to teenagers of the 1940s and 1950s. She also authored and illustrated several advice and etiquette books, many of which are in the Indiana State Library’s Indiana Collection.

While much of the advice contained in these books seems archaic, silly and perhaps mildly offensive to modern sensibilities, they do serve to provide a fascinating peek into American social norms of the postwar era.

Image from “Your Manners are Showing: The Hand-book of Teenage Know-How” (1946 : Grosset & Dunlap).

They are also delightfully and lavishly illustrated.

Image from “The Betty Betz Party Book: The teen-Age Guide to Social Success” (1947 : Grosset & Dunlap).

To locate the Indiana State Library’s collection of Betty Betz’s books, please visit our online catalog.

This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library.  For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.