These entertaining etiquette warnings shown before silent films reminded turn-of-the-century moviegoers about how to avoid social faux pas. The glass slides were projected onto the screen while theater attendants changed the reels. People who came to catch Charlie Chaplain or Greta Garbo on the silver screen were instructed to remove their hats, refrain from smoking indoors and to “applaud with hands only.” The photos are originally from the Library of Congress archives, collected for the book Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture.
These vintage PSAs are not only entertaining but also insightful, offering a look at fashion, culture and common courtesy at the turn of the century. Today's theater rules requiring shirts and shoes and banning cell phone usage reveal a society that operates on a much more basic code of decency. This collection of slides, however, points to an era of elegance and formality, when men and women dressed to the nines and strove to avoid the social disgrace of forgetting to remove their hats.