In Which We Speak of The Blue Book (No, Not The One About Cars)

Hello and welcome to a Tuesday here at The Prepatorium, where we have been confronted with yet another sign the apocalypse could be nigh.

It all started with the morning newspaper perusal. Yes, we still read an actual paper newspaper every morning, deriving some silly comfort from the tactile sensation of bona fide newsprint between fingers, pages spread out everywhere, swapping sections with The Consort. We happen to have The Journal delivered daily, much as we enjoy The Times, it is stuffed with such copious amounts of good reading it began to feel like we had an obligation to the paper and we weren’t keeping up our end of the deal (seriously). Thus we resorted to the online subscription for that publication.

At any rate, here is a headline that from The Journal that sent the morning a tad off kilter:

Denver’s Society Bible Hits the Skids

From the story:

DENVER—The Social Register and Record has been publishing the accomplishments of this city’s well-bred and well-to-do since 1906. But the gold-embossed edition that came out last month may be the last volume of the Denver Register ever printed.

It won’t be deeply missed.

Ouch.

The books served a very good purpose for decades, originally created for those visiting other cities, or contemplating whether or not to allow someone to make a social call at their residence.  Such customs may seem downright quaint in today’s world of instant-everything, the I-want-it-now-or-not-at-all philosophy has sadly become more pervasive, but that wasn’t the case years ago.

Matthew Staver for The Wall Street Journal

Yours truly resided in Denver for 17+ years; while never listed in the Blue Book, many friends and some not exactly friends and associates were included.  Not all Registers were/are actually blue books, some readers are likely familiar with Washington’s Green Book.

The Green Book

New York’s distinctive black cover with orange printing is easily recognized.

Social Register Online

The New York Book seems much healthier than Denver’s, here is more from the WSJ’s Metropolis blog:

The main edition, published in November, lists almost 25,000 families and provides their addresses and phone numbers, academic affiliations and memberships in clubs, business associations and charitable groups.

The Metropolis story quotes an editor who notes that many members aren’t necessarily technological whizzes, and they would rather have a physical book to read. However, the group doesn’t ignore the internet.

The secret advisory board that reviews nominations for new listings has been known check out prospective members online, scanning for embarrassing videos, compromising photos or blog posts unsuitable for a paragon of high society.

“That,” Prychodko says, “is a tool we all use these days.”

Someone even tried doing a new version for San Francisco in 2009, “San Francisco Social: The New Social Register“. We’re guessing Amid Privilege might have some thoughts on the newfangled version as well as the original. (Of course she is much too circumspect

San Francisco Social

According to Amazon’s listing for the book it even comes in a Kindle version.

Back to Stephanie Simon’s story from today’s paper and the situation in Denver:

In recent years, however, the cachet seems to have worn thin. Fewer families are applying for inclusion in the Register (to be considered, they must be nominated by a current listee).

And fewer listed families see enough value in the book to pay $65 for the latest edition. A decade ago, Mrs. Piper says, she was easily selling more than 800 books a year. This year, she sold just 392.

The online version of the story also features a photo piece entitled High Bred, Little Read (double owie), we reveled in chapter titles from older versions of the Book:

  • The Smart Set
  • The Young Set
  • Eligible Men
  • Types of Denver Beauty
  • Fashionable Residence Districts
  • Worth Over a Million

Matthew Staver for The Wall Street Journal

Many registries do utilize contemporary technology, New York’s book allows downloading of appropriate forms and applicable paperwork, as well as on online version of the Register supplemented with additional information.

There are other registers that aren’t published at all, like The Social Register of Las Vegas, its information is all online, including its Facebook page. Below a snippet of its Mission Statement:

The primary mission of The Social Register of Las Vegas is to bring a higher level of business networking and socializing to Las Vegas, while providing numerous philanthropic opportunities to give back to those less fortunate in the Las Vegas community. The Social Register offers two distinct, private membership divisions: the Business Professional Networking/ Marketing Division and the Social & Philanthropic Division.

Call me crazy, I’m not hearing TQM or GAM (Great Aunt Molly) endorsing ‘networking’ as a proper activity; you won’t be surprised to read they were/are more of the “one’s name need only be published three times: upon birth, marriage and death” school of public imagery.  However, we ladies work nowadays; while in most careers it’s not an issue, in some endeavors that requires one’s name in the paper, on the radio, online, you know the drill.

It would seem to our little pea-brain that if not enough people find value in Denver’s Blue Book (sniff), then perhaps it should belong to the past. Our issue would never be with the fact there aren’t enough people who find the book vital to their world, we can be anachronistic enough to fret over the social situation creating that condition, not its resultant impact on Blue Book sales.  We’re also pragmatic enough to revel in a more egalitarian world, where we get to work everyday, where life is more inclusionary, and where TQM doesn’t cringe quite so much when yours truly lands on the teewee while chatting about the latest fashion ensemble worn by Kate Middleton as part of her J-O-B.

Comme Ci, Comme Ça, oui?

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9 Comments

Filed under preppy, preppy lifestyle

9 responses to “In Which We Speak of The Blue Book (No, Not The One About Cars)

  1. This news doesn’t surprise me.

    It was only in coming to Texas that I learned about such publications. The Anonymous Husband & I were listed in one (in print only) for a time . . . though the AH hails from a town where there are those who still very much care about things like this, he didn’t see any networking benefit from it, which is the only reason he’d be interested in something like this. Given that & the cost (think this was also in the $65 range) we dropped it.

  2. I honestly don’t even seen value in the yellow page version of phone books. So I totally agree that these are so outdated and very past their generation prime. Also, wouldn’t you just feel so ostentatious to request your name appear in a book like this? Seems sort of gaudy to me.

    KK

  3. My father kept that black and orange one around, dated something like 1953, for ages. He used it to remind himself what he had left behind. We can wish for decorum and regret the loss of exclusivity not one whit. We wish that carrots led to politesse as much as the long gone sticks seemed to do. We are not sure quite what to do with all, other than retreat to the High WASP Royal We, and call our sister on the telephone to natter. Oh, and wish that TPP now lived in California, and were therefore available for a nice, long, lunch.

  4. Haha! I take great pride not in the fact that I am listed, but that my address is in some of the worst parts of town! The SR even managed to find my new address before my bank statement did! The NY Social Register is actually now “the” one for the whole US.

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  6. Interesting post. It’s nice when old fashioned things like these books still exist, maybe comforting for some. In today’s world though, I’d imagine they’re not very necessary anymore. Is Facebook the new Social Register? Probably not, but does one need to purchase a book to aid in their decision about lunch guests and dinner party companions? Probably not.

  7. Yes, the end of an era but must admit that in this day and age, I can’t imagine wanting to go to the trouble to solicit recommendations to appear in such a volume. It would be different perhaps if there were eating privileges or pool attached.

  8. Jen

    Fascinating. I did not know about this. Everything is going digital. It almost has the feeling of those old Encyclopedia Britannica’s that we had when we were young. It seemed as soon as we got them, they were already outdated.

  9. High Bred

    muy bueno el post

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