The Correct Thing

img_1708By Mimi Mays

On Saturday the 11th, Honors and Teaching Fellows FOE participants traveled to Sedalia, North Carolina (near Greensboro) to tour the former Palmer Memorial Institute, now the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum. Dr. Brown founded the Palmer Memorial Institute in 1902 at the age of only 19, and Meredith students were able to witness her amazing contributions to African-American history and music education.

Dr. Brown was famous for her no-nonsense attitude and her expectation of the best from both her students and her family (which were often one and the same). In 1941, she published a book entitled The Correct Thing To Do, To Say, To Wear, a compilation of her most important adages and instructions, aiming to prove that “good manners are color-less”.

Here are 7 of Dr. Brown’s most applicable (or humorous) pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t monopolize the radio. Your favorite program may conflict with the favorite of someone else. Be agreeable and take turns. (From the section “At Home”.)
    • Though the 21st century brings different forms of entertainment, the sentiment remains relevant! Whether it be the parlor television or your parents’ Netflix account, share!
  2. Refrain from boisterous talking or laughing. (From the section “At Mealtime”.)
    • For anyone Meredith girl who eats in Belk Dining Hall, this is particularly amusing! Though the rule is important for fancy occasions, I can’t imagine you could get many people to obey it when Meredith pulls out a chocolate fountain for V-day.
  3. If you meet one of your teachers or your principal, stop and say, “Good morning, Mr. Green.” Don’t fling out a short “how do” while you rush on your way. (From the section “At School”.)
    • I’m always delighted to see professors outside of class, and find they usually have something sincere to say. Take your time to greet them, though I don’t think anyone would forgo this rule if they happened upon Dr. Allen!
  4. Be sure that you know when to laugh. DO NOT MISTAKE TRAGEDY FOR COMEDY. (From the section “At the Concert or Theatre”.)
    • Too true, Dr. Brown! Make sure to go and see Meredith Ensemble Theatre’s Once Upon A Mattress next week–hopefully they will tolerate some laughs.
  5. School clothes should be simple and made of materials that resist dirt, that can be easily cleaned, and can stand hard wear. (From the section “Dress for Girls”.)
    • Luckily Meredith t-shirts fit the bill! (Don’t forget to come pick up your new Honors tees!)
  6. In addition to the ordinary transportation from one place to another, [travel] offers a source of learning and appreciating, of improving the mind and satisfying the soul. (From the section titled “Travel”.)
    • Meredith students are so blessed to have so many opportunities to travel locally and abroad to enrich themselves. Don’t forget, fall study abroad applications are due March 1st!
  7. Suggest to your guest a good hour for rising so that she will not get up too soon or too late. (From the section “The Week-End”.)
    • A dorm resident quickly learns that this is good practice for her and her roommate–without motivation, it’s all too easy to sleep past alarms. Keep this in mind as Scholars’ weekend is approaching!


The complete copy of Charlotte Hawkins Brown’s The Correct Thing To Do, To Say, To Wear is available for students to read in the Honors lounge, Joyner 115.


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