“A Service that is a Service.”

In the front pages of the Clark’s Boston Blue Book for 1916, you find this:

The function
of detective service
at social events

Etiquette requires that the guest be the recipient of the most solicitous consideration.

While in attendance upon any occasion in response to an invitation, a guest, and the property of a guest, must be adequately protected from any possible depredations not only by means commonly exercised, but by especial measures made necessary by the event.

It is essential at all times when valuables are on dis play, whether as personal adornment, or on exhibition as gifts, as in the instance of wedding presents, that private detectives be employed by the host or hostess.

Men or women who know thoroughly the traits of the class of culprits who confine their activities to the social events heralded by newspaper publications and social periodicals must be secured through a reputable detective private agency.

A month or so prior to the date set for a wedding, or as soon as any presents are received, it is advisable to engage a detective to guard the gifts during the night, and also during the daytime, for a period of at least several days before the ceremony, or during the absence of household members from the premises.

When delegated for service of this kind, the detective in company with the host or hostess makes an inventory of all the articles which are to be protected, and this is added to and cheeked up periodically. Before the departure of the detective, after everything hasbeen packed and safely put away by its owners, a final accounting is taken.

Detectives, dressed as the occasion requires, are generally employed at the time of the ceremony to mingle with the guests in order to prevent any undesir able persons from frequenting the premises. It is usually advisable to have a detective in street dress on the grounds to prevent photographers and reporters, etc., from entering the premises or annoying the guests or gaining access to the church or house at the time of receptions, parties, and rehearsals or other social affairs.


Detectives afford the only real protection against blackmailers and slanderers which can be given to girls and young men who are in schools of any sort away from home, or any place where there is a reasonable amount of wealth represented by students.

Careful investigation from time to time, of actions and habits of young women attending schools and colleges away from home and away from the guidance and chaperonage of parents, especially of their companions of either sex, unvouched for hostesses, and their surroundings in general, may enable parents to keep all concerned from various sorts of unpleasant entanglements.

“A Service that is a Service”

Day and Night

We have not yet returned to the point of income inequality in which detectives openly advertise that they will prevent your sons and daughters from dating the Wrong Kind of People, but no doubt it is a service still quietly offered.

This was, it appears, some of the nicest work that the Sherman Detective Agency, later the Sherman Service, ever did. They were known as strikebreakers, sowing ethnic strife to accomplish the breakdown of labor movements. See also The Legendary Detective: The Private Eye in Fact and Fiction, by John Walton. Sherman Service eventually dedicated itself to the “industrial conciliation” business, assuming aliases that cause the corporate trail to break down. Perhaps there is some shard of the institution existing somewhere today.