Taylor—Upper Class Women of the Gilded Age

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Student presentation on Upper Class Women of the Gilded Age

Student presentation on Upper Class Women of the Gilded Age

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  • 1. Taylor Brown
    Gilded Asheville Miniterm
    Upper Class Women of the Gilded Age
  • 2. The Role of an Upper Class Woman
    The main role of a woman was to act as a hostess
    Receive calling cards and callers, as well as returning the calls
    Plan seating charts and menus
    Keep household running smoothly
    Plan parties and other events
    Make sure all of the servants of the house were properly cared for
    A woman was to act properly
    According to scholar Nan Johnson, in the Gilded Age quiet women were considered the “wine of life” ¹
    A proper woman was to know when to speak and what to speak of, and most importantly, when not to speak
    Women were discouraged from having strong voices
  • 3. An Elite Woman’s Dress
    A Victorian woman wore ²
    She might also carry/wear
    Gaiters (shoe covers)
    Me in full Victorian dress
  • 4. Proper Etiquette for Dining ³
    Guests should be seated boy-girl at a table ⁴
    You must not speak to anyone other than the people directly next to you
    You speak to the person on your right for one course, then for the next course, the person on your left, and so on
    All dishes should be passed to the left
    Topics that should be avoided
    “One’s own affairs”
    Anything that could cause controversy
  • 5. Proper Etiquette for Dining, Continued ⁵
    Modesty is stressed
    Do not laugh at your own jokes
    Do not mention influential acquaintances
    Do not speak of your “superior” education
    Control any desire to shine
    Avoid any scenes or quarrels
    Also Avoid
    Foreign languages
    Interrupting others
    Volunteering information
    Intimate questions
    Lengthy anecdotes
    Gilded Asheville Miniterm students observing proper etiquette
  • 6. Formal Dinners 6
    Usually consisted of around 7 courses
    Each place setting had up to 15 different utensils (of which guests must know the purposes)
    Lady of the house planned / approved menu
    At the Biltmore, dinners included
    Cheese and biscuits
    Ice cream
    Club soda
    Grape brandy
    Proper etiquette must be observed
    Biltmore’s Banquet Hall
  • 7. Women’s Pastimes at Biltmore ⁷
    Formal meals
    Parlor games
    Playing music
    A Game of Croquet
  • 8. A Day in the Life of a Woman at Biltmore ⁸
    8:30 Hot water brought upstairs for the pitcher and bowl in the bathroom
    9:00 Morning tea served in the bedroom, servants assisted in getting dressed
    10:00 Breakfast in the Winter Garden
    11:00 Change into a walking outfit
    11:30 A stroll though the gardens
    12:30 Change into a Luncheon Outfit
    1:00 Lunch in the Breakfast Room
    2:00 Change into riding clothes
    2:30 Horseback riding
    4:30 Nap or rest in the bedroom
    5:30 Dress for dinner
    6:30 Aperitifs served in the Second Floor Living Hall
    7:00 Dinner in the Banquet Hall
    9:00 A string quartet plays in the Gallery
    11:00 A stroll on the Library Terrace
    11:30 Go to bed
    Biltmore Estate
  • 9. Edith Vanderbilt
    Married to George Washington Vanderbilt in June of 1898
    Mother of Cornelia Vanderbilt
    Known for incredible grace and exceptional hostess skills
    Bought Christmas presents every year for all the children of Biltmore, even those of servants
    Arranged for much of the Biltmore Estate’s land to be sold in order to keep the household running after her husband’s sudden death in 1914
    Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt
  • 10. Groundbreaking Women of Gilded Age Asheville 9
    Julia Wolfe
    Mother of writer Thomas Wolfe
    Owned boarding house
    Shrewd businesswoman
    In a time where women could not get loans from banks, Julia Wolfe owned a house and ran a successful business
    Elizabeth Blackwell
    First female doctor in the United States
    Worked as a nanny for a doctor and read his medical books at night
    Was admitted to medical school because the students were given a vote, and they thought it was a joke
    She graduated first in her class and went on to open the first female-run hospital, along with the help of Florence Nightingale
  • 11. Groundbreaking Women, Continued ¹º
    Lillian Exum Clement
    First female attorney in NC to practice without a man
    Elected to North Carolina House of Representatives by a margin of 10,368 to 41
    Introduced 17 bills, 16 of which were passed
    Allowed women who had been abandoned to apply for divorce in 5 years instead of 10
    Helped create private voting booths
  • 12. Analysis
    During the Gilded Age, women were seen as possessions, designed to look pretty and keep a household running smoothly
    They were expected to follow proper rules of etiquette and manage a household
    Women had little influence in the world outside of the home
    Upper class women of the Gilded Age were expected to appear perfect at all times
    They wore corsets to manipulate their figures, and never spoke of their true beliefs or feelings, as it was considered poor manners
    This all suggests that a woman’s place was as the lady of the house, always with the interests of her guests or family in mind, rather than her own
  • 13. Endnotes
    1. Johnson, Nan. “Reigning in the Court of Silence: Women and Rhetorical Space in Postbellum America.” Philosophy and Rhetoric. Vol. 33, No. 3 of On Feminizing the Philosophy of Rhetoric. Pennsylvania: Penn State Press. 2000. 221-42. Print.
    2. Whitfield, Lisa. Smith McDowell House, Asheville, NC. March 2, 2011. Oral presentation.
    3. Elder, Dana. “A Rhetoric of Etiquette for the ‘True Man’ of the Gilded Age.” Rhetoric Review. Vol. 21, No. 2. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2002. 150-69. Print.
    4. Whitfield.
    5. Elder.
    6. “The Gilded Age at Biltmore Estate.” Asheville: The Biltmore Company. 1992. Print.
    7. Gilded Age at Biltmore
    8. Gilded Age at Biltmore
    9. Williams, Brenda. HerStory Tour. Asheville, NC. March 2,2011. Oral Presentation.
    10. Williams.