13 Absurd and Design-Savvy Vintage Employee Handbooks

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Today’s employee manuals just can’t compare to the handbooks of yesterday, with their quaint rules and vintage designs. Corporate rulemakers like Disney and Playboy asked a lot of their employees in order to maintain a strict order and image-focused facade that launched each organization to the top of the pop culture charts. See what the manuals for stewardess, amusement park attendant, and Playboy bunny required in this collection of vintage employee handbooks.

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Put on a happy face at Disney, or else: “You’ll find that we aren’t stuffy or ‘square.’ Disneyland is a happy place. Fun and happiness doesn’t survive in a grouchy atmosphere.”

Head to Brain Pickings for the 1943 handbook.

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For those who would prefer not to fly the friendly skies, become a bus hostess.

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Gloves required, says the 1961 National Park Service Uniform Handbook.

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“She must be unmarried. She may not be more than five feet six inches tall. She must be a registered trained nurse. And her uniform is about the smartest thing a good-looking girl ever wore.”

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For typography nerds, the 1974 Neiman Marcus handbook.

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“Regard for one’s fellow-man has always been a factor in making our democracy great and our nation the envy of all others. Be considerate and understanding with everyone, even those who appear to be unreasonable or demanding, and particularly those from other states or countries — who may be unfamiliar to our western ways.” Life advice from the 1959 Pacific Ocean Park handbook — a Disney competitor.

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From the 1958 handbook for Canadian television station CFRN-DT, formerly owned by Sunwapta Broadcasting Ltd.: “Cold preventive powders are available upon request from Radio or TV Switchboard.”

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“Your private life is very much your own.” Lulz from IBM’s 1992 Business Conduct Guidelines employee handbook.

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“The bunny has become what the Ziegfeld girl was to another generation, synonymous with the most glamorous young women in the world,” says Playboy’s 1968 Bunny Manual. “When a bunny is smoking while on duty, she is to ‘take a puff’ and set the cigarette in an ashtray. Bunnies are not to stand or sit holding a cigarette.”

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We’re digging the aero-like graphic design of this 1960-something Delta manual.

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Dunkin’ Donuts’ old employee manual gives hugs.

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From General Electric in 1952, the sexist women-only manuals “Strictly Business, English Know-How, Your Manners are Showing, Secretarial Skills, and Strictly Personal.”

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Risk your life while riding the rides at Chippewa Lake Park: “Reading a book or newspaper is the best way we have found to discourage a customer — he doesn’t want to interrupt you. ABOVE ALL . . . This rule pertains while the ride is operating for safety reasons.” Or you could just blame the dame talking to the operator: “The ride was a doozey until he met a floozy.”