From the Archives: Little Folks from Relentless Town

We’ve been publishing books since 1919, which means we have one heck of an archive. Every Friday we highlight one of our more unusual, beautiful, or hilarious titles unearthed from the storage bins.

In the 1920s, Laura Rountree Smith wrote a series of stories for children extolling the virtues of manners, cleanliness, healthy habits, self-denial, and thrift, which were collected in these two volumes, Little Folks from Etiquette Town and Little Folks from Spotless Town. To read them now, one can’t help but be in awe of the staggering amounts of information that the youth of this era had to retain. Clearly in the days before television and the internet you needed to pack children’s heads full of something, and what was the stuffing of choice? RULES, and lots of them—a veritable Code of Hammurabi for the ten-and-under set! We’ve gone through the books and compiled a list for you slatterns, and you would do well to heed them:

Do not crack nuts with your teeth.
Do not eat meat three times a day.
Do not sit at the edge of your chair.
Do not point with your utensils.
Read only during the daytime.

Do not eat when tired.
Do not neglect to blacken your shoes.
Do not skate too much or you will become bow-legged.
Take deep breaths through your nose instead of your mouth.
Do not shuffle your feet.
Do not hang off the ice wagon.

Do not put pencils in your mouth.
Do not crumple waste-paper.
Always save paper and string.
Do not butter a whole slice of bread.
Do not read while lying down.
Do not eat in the street.
Do not ask useless questions.
Think happy, healthy thoughts.

Which ones are you going to break this weekend? Happy Friday, everyone!

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From the Archives: Little Folks from Relentless Town

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