The Early Days Of The Miss America Pageant

September 15, 2022

America pageant 1921, Atlantic City. public domain

The Miss America Pageant dates all the way back to the 1920s, managing to transform over that time period but oddly remaining the same. It started as the regional “Inter-City Beauties” “popularity contest” featuring East Coast women entirely from Philadelphia, New York City, and D.C.

What started as a humble summer contest in Atlantic City grew by leaps and bounds in just a few short years. Quickly the Miss America Pageant became a highlight event on the summer calendar, drawing visitors and contestants from all over the country. Here’s a snapshot of the early days of what eventually became a multi-million dollar TV event.

Not exactly the glitz and glamour of today.

“The Inter-City Beauties”

In what would become the Miss America Pageant, the inaugural 1921 event found its first contestants via major newspapers along the east coast. Women sent in their pictures along with brief descriptions before readers voted on their favorites.

Those finalists received a free trip to Atlantic City mostly to listen to the unintelligible voices shouted from the crowd. The infrastructure for thoughtful questions about world peace lay many years away. Together, judges and crowd applause selected the winner.