Latch-key etiquette (1938)

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The latch key

Dear Mrs Post: Will you give us your opinion of young women carrying latch-keys when coming home from a late dance, either to their family’s house or to an apartment shared by a friend. Isn’t it better for them to let themselves in than to wake up some one else for the sake of making things seem proper? Wouldn’t the situation seem just as proper as long as the man knew there were others in the house or apartment?

Answer from Emily Post: According to best taste, a young woman should avoid carrying a latch-key when possible. Carrying one to an upstairs apartment, however, should not matter since the man who brings her home should leave her at the front door of the building. Generally speaking, it is not proper that a man be invited into the house when he brings a girl home from a late parly. On the other hand, this is sometimes permissible in special instances when two or three young people stop in or come home together to forage in the ice box.

In an especially interesting letter written to me some time ago and published in this column, a mother and daughter arranged that the daughter telephone her just before leaving a dance or other very late party. The telephone rang by the mother’s bed. She then got up, rearranged her hair and put on a long house gown so that she looked completely dressed when she opened the door for her daughter.

When this letter was published in this column, more than two hundred letters were sent me — not by by mothers, but by daughters — which told me that they had followed this same practise. It was one of the most surprising as well as pleasing responses that I have ever had made to me by the readers of this column.

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