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Breck Girls Collection

Creator:
Williams, Ralph William  Search this
Breck Company.  Search this
Dial Corporation.  Search this
American Cyanamid Company  Search this
Sheldon, Charles  Search this
Names:
Basinger, Kim  Search this
Gray, Erin  Search this
Hamill, Joan  Search this
Shields, Brooke  Search this
Tiegs, Cheryl  Search this
Extent:
6.5 Cubic feet (16 boxes, 188 pieces of original artwork)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Pastels (visual works)
Advertisements
Business records
Date:
circa 1936-1995
Summary:
The collection documents the development and evolution of the Breck Girl, a highly successful and long-lived advertising campaign whose hallmark was its vision of idealized American womanhood through correspondence, photographs, paintings, and print advertisements.
Scope and Contents:
188 pieces of original advertising art (mostly pastel drawings), and photographs, correspondence, and business records, documenting the development and evolution of the Breck Girls advertising campaign. Original advertising art includes portraits of famous models, such as Cheryl Tiegs, Brooke Shields, Kim Basinger, and Erin Gray. Artists represented include Charles Sheldon and Ralph William Williams. The 2006 addendum consists of approximately one sixth of one cubic foot of papers relating to Cynthia Brown's selection as a Breck Girl, 1988 and her induction into the Breck Hall of Fame.
Arrangement:
Collection divided into four series.

Series 1: Company history, 1946-1990

Series 2: Photographs, 1960-1995

Series 3: Print ads, 1946-1980

Series 4: Original artwork, 1936-1994
Biographical / Historical:
Dr. John Breck is credited with developing one of the first liquid shampoos in the United States, in Springfield Massachusetts in 1908; Breck is also credited with introducing the first ph-balanced shampoo, in 1930. During the early years of the business, distribution remained localized in New England, and the product was sold exclusively to beauty salons until 1946. Advertising for the brand began in 1932, but appeared only in trade publications, such as Modern Beauty Shop.

Edward Breck, son of the founder, assumed management of the company in 1936. Breck became acquainted with Charles Sheldon, an illustrator and portrait painter who is believed to have studied in Paris under Alphonse Mucha, an artist noted for his contributions to Art Nouveau style. Sheldon had achieved some measure of fame for his paintings of movie stars for the cover of Photoplay magazine in the 1920s, and had also done idealized pastel portraits for the cover of Parents magazine. He created his first pastel portraits for Breck in 1936, launching what would become one of America's longest running ad campaigns. When the company began national advertising (and mass distribution) in 1946, the campaign featured Sheldon's 1937 painting of seventeen-year old Roma Whitney, a spirited blonde. Ms. Whitney's profile was registered as Breck's trademark in 1951. When he retired in 1957, Sheldon had created 107 oil paintings and pastels for the company. Sheldon was known to favor ordinary women over professional models, and in the early years of the campaign, the Breck Girls were Breck family members, neighbors or residents of the community in which he worked; company lore holds that nineteen Breck Girls were employees of the advertising agency he founded in 1940. A Breck advertising manager later described Sheldon's illustrations as, "illusions, depicting the quality and beauty of true womanhood using real women as models." The paintings and pastels form a coherent, if derivative, body of work which celebrates an idealized vision of American girlhood and womanhood, an ideal in which fair skin, beauty and purity are co-equal.

Ralph William Williams was hired to continue the Breck Girls campaign after Sheldon's retirement. Between 1957 and his death in 1976, Williams modified the Breck Girl look somewhat through the use of brighter colors and a somewhat heightened sense of movement and individuality. The advertising manager during his tenure recalled that Aat first Williams continued in Sheldon' manner, but in later years, as women became more independent, he would take care to integrate each girl' particular personality; he studied each girl and learned her special qualities. During these years, Breck Girls were identified through the company's sponsorship of America's Junior Miss contests. Williams work includes pastels of celebrities Cybil Shepard (1968 Junior Miss from Tennessee), Cheryl Tiegs (1968), Jaclyn Smith (1971, 1973), Kim Basinger (1972, 1974) and Brooke Shields (1974) very early in their careers.

By the 1960s, at the height of its success, Breck held about a twenty percent share of the shampoo market and enjoyed a reputation for quality and elegance. Ownership of the company changed several times (American Cyanamid in 1963; Dial Corporation in 1990). The corresponding fluctuations in management of the company and in advertising expenditures tended to undermine the coherence of the national advertising campaign. In addition, despite William's modifications, the image had become dated. Attempts to update the image misfired, further limiting the brand's coherence and effectiveness. Finally, increased competition and an absence of brand loyalty among consumers through the 1970s and 1980s helped push Breck from its number one position into the bargain bin. The Breck Girl campaign was discontinued around 1978, although there have been at least two minor revivals, first in 1992 with the Breck Girls Hall of Fame, and again in 1995 when a search was begun to identify three new Breck Women. Scope and Content: The 188 pieces of original advertising art (62 oil paintings on board, 2 pencil sketches on paper, and 124 pastels on paper) and related photographs, correspondence and business files in this collection document the development and evolution of the Breck Girl, a highly successful and long-lived advertising campaign whose hallmark was its vision of idealized American womanhood. The collection is a perfect fit with other 20th century Archives Center collections documenting the efforts of American business to reach the female consumer market. The Estelle Ellis Collection (advertising and promotions for Seventeen, Charm, Glamour and House & Garden and many other clients) the Cover Girl Collection (make-up), the Maidenform Collection (brassieres), and the Tupperware Collections offer a prodigious body of evidence for understanding the role women were expected to play as consumers in the 20th century.

These advertising images also offer fertile ground for research into the evolution of popular images of American girlhood and womanhood. The research uses of the collection derive primarily from its value as an extensive visual catalog of the ideal types of American women and girls, arising and coalescing during a period in which 19th century ideals of womanhood were being revisited (the depression, the war years, the immediate post-war period) and continuing, with slight modifications and revisions, through several decades during which those historical ideals were being challenged and revised.
Related Materials:
Several items of packaging, 1930s-1980s are held in the former Division of Home and Community Life (now Division of Cultural and Community Life); an 18k gold Breck insignia pin is in the former.
Provenance:
The Dial Corporation through Jane Owens, Senior Vice President, Gift, June 1998.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Shampoos -- advertising  Search this
Hair -- Shampooing  Search this
advertising -- 20th century  Search this
Feminine beauty (Aesthetics)  Search this
Beauty contestants  Search this
Beauty culture  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1950-2000
Pastels (visual works)
Advertisements -- 20th century
Business records -- 20th century
Citation:
Breck Girls Collection, ca. 1936-1995, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0651
See more items in:
Breck Girls Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8391c0d4c-0f44-4123-acb3-bd54f8a86aa3
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0651
Online Media:

Gazette

Performer:
Seeger, Pete, 1919-2014  Search this
Collection Creator:
Asch, Moses  Search this
Distler, Marian, 1919-1964  Search this
Folkways Records  Search this
Extent:
1 Sound recording (sound-tape reel, analog, 10 in.)
Culture:
Americans  Search this
Anglo-American  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Place:
United States
New York
Contents:
Newspapermen--Hurricane man--Demi song--Without transportation--Wild west is where I want to be--Guardian beauty contest--Ballad of Sherman Wu--Sinking of the Reuben James--Old man atom--Roll on Columbia
Track Information:
101 Newspapermen / Banjo.

102 The Hurricane Man / Banjo.

103 The Demi Song / Banjo.

104 Without Transportation / Banjo.

105 The Wild West is Where I Want To Be / Banjo.

106 Guardian Beauty Contest Banjo.

107 The Ballad of Sherman Wu / Banjo.

108 The Sinking of the Reuben James / Banjo.

109 Old Man Atom / Banjo.

110 Roll On Columbia / Banjo.
Local Numbers:
FW-ASCH-10RR-3371
Date/Time and Place of an Event Note:
Recorded in: New York, United States.
General:
CDR copy- Disc 413
Restrictions:
Restrictions on access. No duplication allowed listening and viewing for research purposes only.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. Please visit our website to learn more about submitting a request. The Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections make no guarantees concerning copyright or other intellectual property restrictions. Other usage conditions may apply; please see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for more information.
Topic:
Folk songs -- United States  Search this
Folksong revival  Search this
Banjo  Search this
Collection Citation:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
CFCH.ASCH, Item FW-ASCH-10RR-3371
See more items in:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection
Moses and Frances Asch Collection / Series 9: Audio Recordings / CD / CDR copy
Archival Repository:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/bk5ec88d863-2af3-4f0f-85e8-80bd3b53c63c
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-cfch-asch-ref19824

Resistance Hootenanny: Pete Seeger, Sylvia Kahn, Jerry Silverman, Beulah Richardson, Jackie Berman, Eleanor Stone

Performer:
Seeger, Pete, 1919-2014  Search this
Berman, Jackie  Search this
Kahn, Sylvia  Search this
Richards, Beah E.  Search this
Silverman, Jerry, 1931-  Search this
Stone, Eleanor  Search this
Hart, Jean, musician  Search this
Group  Search this
Collection Creator:
Asch, Moses  Search this
Distler, Marian, 1919-1964  Search this
Folkways Records  Search this
Extent:
1 Sound recording (sound-tape reel, analog, 7 in.)
Culture:
Americans  Search this
Anglo-American  Search this
Jews  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Place:
United States
New York
Israel
France
Haiti
Contents:
Yes we did; Pete Seeger--Guardian beauty contest; Jackie Berman--Buffalo skinners; Sylvia Kahn--German song; Beah Richards--Poem; Pete Seeger--Billy Barlow; Jackie Berman--Cutty wren; Poem--Walk in Jerusalem just like John--Trouble island aria; Sylvia Kahn--Thumbs up; Pete Seeger-We are moving on to victory; Eleanor Stone--Avaka hin--Shepherd's song--French carriage song--Lass from the Low Country--Und die musik spiel das so; I know an old lady who swallowed a fly; Lonesome traveler-; McCarthy parody--Sonnet 14--Wasn't that a time--Sit down; Hungarian folk songs (2x); Poem; Resistance of the Warsaw ghetto; Jerry Silverman--People's song book ad--Trouble in mind; I just do nothing at all; Jean Hart---No John; Great historical bum--Rock Island Line--Rooster is crowing--Yellow bird--Tumba--Miner's life---Michael, row the boat ashore--Joshua fit the battle--Steel drum--Hey lolly lolly
Track Information:
101 Yes We Did (We'll Do It Together) / Group, Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

102 Guardian Beauty Contest / Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

103 Buffalo Skinners / Jackie Berman. Guitar. English language.

104 German Song with Piano / Sylvia Kahn. Piano. German language.

105 Poem / Beah E. Richards. English language.

106 Billy Barlow / Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

106 The Cutty Wren / Pete Seeger, Jackie Berman, Jerry Silverman. Guitar,Recorder (Muscial instrument). English language.

107 Poem / Group. English language.

107 Walk in Jerusalem Just Like John / Group. English language.

108 Still, Wm. Grant: Troubled Island Aria / Group. English language.

109 Thumbs Up / Sylvia Kahn. Guitar. German language.

110 We are Moving on to Victory / Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

111 Avaka Hin (Watermelon Seller) / Eleanor Stone. Guitar. English language.

112 Shepherd's Song / Eleanor Stone. Guitar. English language.

113 French Carriage Song / Eleanor Stone. Guitar. English language.

114 Lass from the Low Country / Eleanor Stone. Guitar. English language.

115 Und die Musik Spiel das So / Eleanor Stone. Guitar. German language.

116 I Know an Old Who Swallowed a Fly / Guitar. English language.

117 Lonesome Traveler / Group, Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

118 Lowenfels, Walter: McCarthy Parody (to No Irish Need Apply) / Guitar. English language.

119 Lowenfels, Walter: Sonnet #14 (from Sonnets of Love and Liberty) / Guitar. English language.

120 Wasn't That a Time / Group, Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

201 Sit Down, Sit Down (frag.) / Group, Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

202 Hungarian Folk Song (arr. by Bartok) / Piano. English language.

203 Hungarian Folk Song (arr. by Kodaly) / Piano. English language.

204 Poem (Macabees) / Guitar. English language.

205 Resistance Song of the Warsaw Ghetto / Group, Eleanor Stone. Guitar. English language,German language.

206 People's Song Book Advertisement / Jerry Silverman. Guitar. English language.

207 Trouble in Mind / Jerry Silverman. Guitar. English language.

208 I'll Just Do Nothing at All / Guitar. English language.

209 No John / Jean Hart. Piano. English language.

210 The Great Historical Bum / Group, Pete Seeger, Jackie Berman. Banjo,Guitar. English language.

211 Rock Island Line / Group. Banjo,Guitar. English language.

212 Rooster is Crowing, The (Cucka Ricka) / Group. Banjo,Guitar. English language.

213 Yellow Bird / Group. Banjo,Guitar. English language.

214 Tumba / Group. Banjo,Guitar. English language.

215 The Miner's Life / Group. Banjo,Guitar. English language.

216 Michael, Row the Boat Ashore / Group, Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

217 Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho / Group, Pete Seeger. Banjo. English language.

218 Steel Drum / Pete Seeger. Steel drum (Musical instrument). English language.

219 Hey, Lolly Lolly / Group, Pete Seeger. Banjo,Steel drum (Musical instrument). English language.
Local Numbers:
FW-ASCH-7RR-2768
Date/Time and Place of an Event Note:
Recorded in: New York, United States, April 14, 1956.
General:
CDR copy- Disc 472
Restrictions:
Restrictions on access. No duplication allowed listening and viewing for research purposes only.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. Please visit our website to learn more about submitting a request. The Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections make no guarantees concerning copyright or other intellectual property restrictions. Other usage conditions may apply; please see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for more information.
Topic:
Folksong revival  Search this
Poetry  Search this
Opera  Search this
Steel bands (Music)  Search this
Banjo  Search this
Guitar  Search this
Piano  Search this
Recorder (Muscial instrument)  Search this
Steel drum (Musical instrument)  Search this
Collection Citation:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
CFCH.ASCH, Item FW-ASCH-7RR-2768
See more items in:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection
Moses and Frances Asch Collection / Series 9: Audio Recordings / CD / CDR copy
Archival Repository:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/bk5608964ee-50b4-481e-8a74-439178b93474
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-cfch-asch-ref25688

Untitled--Beauty Contest/Photographer, from the portfolio Photographs of New York

Artist:
Reginald Marsh, born Paris, France 1898-died Dorset, VT 1954  Search this
Publisher:
Middendorf Gallery, active Washington, DC 20th century  Search this
Jem Hom, active ca. 1976  Search this
Printer:
Ron Stark, born Sidney, NY 1944  Search this
Medium:
gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
image: 5 x 7 1/4 in. (12.8 x 18.4 cm.)
Type:
Photography-Photoprint
Date:
ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976
Topic:
Figure group  Search this
Cityscape\New York\New York  Search this
Architecture\other\swimming pool  Search this
Occupation\art\photographer  Search this
Dress\costume\bathing suit  Search this
Ceremony\other\beauty contest  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Dr. Katherine Alley and Dr. Richard Flax
Object number:
1982.115.18
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Graphic Arts
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/vk7067f03f7-13cf-47ee-8f34-c29c68ca808d
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1982.115.18

Untitled--Beauty Contest/Photographer, from the portfolio Photographs of New York

Artist:
Reginald Marsh, born Paris, France 1898-died Dorset, VT 1954  Search this
Publisher:
Middendorf Gallery, active Washington, DC 20th century  Search this
Jem Hom, active ca. 1976  Search this
Printer:
Ron Stark, born Sidney, NY 1944  Search this
Medium:
gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
image: 5 x 7 1/4 in. (12.8 x 18.4 cm.)
Type:
Photography-Photoprint
Date:
ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976
Topic:
Figure group  Search this
Cityscape\New York\New York  Search this
Occupation\art\photographer  Search this
Ceremony\other\beauty contest  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Douglas Kenyon
Object number:
1986.94.6
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Graphic Arts
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/vk700b30318-d71f-49f0-90bb-cad88acc4fc1
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1986.94.6

SV019/80, Venice Beach, Labor Day Weekend, 1980 from Sequential Views

Artist:
Robbert Flick, born Amersfoort, Netherlands 1939  Search this
Medium:
gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
image: 11 1/2 x 16 in. (29.4 x 40.7 cm.)
Type:
Photography-Photoprint
Date:
1980
Topic:
Figure group  Search this
Recreation\dancing  Search this
Recreation\sport and play\skating  Search this
Cityscape\California\Los Angeles  Search this
Ceremony\other\beauty contest  Search this
Cityscape\California\Venice Beach  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Photography Museum of Los Angeles
Copyright:
© 1980, Robbert Flick
Object number:
1990.38.36
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Graphic Arts
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/vk73c6c54bd-c937-470d-b4ca-b5ebe884ae91
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1990.38.36

Miss America Beauty Pageant

Artist:
Malcah Zeldis, born New York City 1931  Search this
Medium:
oil on masonite
Dimensions:
48 x 40 in. (121.9 x 101.6 cm.)
Type:
Painting
Folk Art
Date:
1973
Topic:
Figure group  Search this
Ceremony\other\beauty contest  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr.
Object number:
1998.84.66
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Painting and Sculpture
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/vk7a066e4b3-0ea9-449f-9ed3-9bdd74f98ad7
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1998.84.66

Janina Smolinski, Miss Poland 1929

Physical Description:
glass plate (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 5 in x 4 in; 12.7 cm x 10.16 cm
Object Name:
glass plate negative
Place made:
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Subject:
Beauty Contests & Pageants  Search this
ID Number:
PG.67.88.00163
Accession number:
270586
Catalog number:
67.88.00163
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-bcfa-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_755831

Janina Smolinski, Miss Poland 1929

Physical Description:
glass plate (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 5 in x 4 in; 12.7 cm x 10.16 cm
Object Name:
glass plate negative
Place made:
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Subject:
Women  Search this
Beauty Contests & Pageants  Search this
ID Number:
PG.67.88.00164
Accession number:
270586
Catalog number:
67.88.00164
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-bcfb-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_755832

Pick most beautiful feet, Miss America 1930

Physical Description:
glass plate (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 5 in x 4 in; 12.7 cm x 10.16 cm
Object Name:
glass plate negative
Place made:
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Subject:
Women  Search this
Beauty Contests & Pageants  Search this
ID Number:
PG.67.88.00179
Accession number:
270586
Publisher number:
CH506777
Catalog number:
67.88.00179
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-a6e1-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_755846

Lois Delander, "Miss Illinois

Physical Description:
glass plate (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 5 in x 4 in; 12.7 cm x 10.16 cm
Object Name:
glass plate negative
Place made:
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Subject:
Women  Search this
Beauty Contests & Pageants  Search this
ID Number:
PG.67.88.00510
Accession number:
270586
Catalog number:
67.88.00510
Publisher number:
69833
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-930e-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_755991

Miss America 1930

Physical Description:
glass plate (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 5 in x 4 in; 12.7 cm x 10.16 cm
Object Name:
glass plate negative
Place made:
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Subject:
Women  Search this
Beauty Contests & Pageants  Search this
Men  Search this
Cooking  Search this
ID Number:
PG.67.88.00718
Accession number:
270586
Catalog number:
67.88.00718
Publisher number:
CH506762
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-b407-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_756200

scrapbook page

Physical Description:
paper (support; envelopes material)
newsprint (clippings material)
card (invitation material)
ink (clippings; invitation; envelopes material)
Measurements:
overall: 12 3/8 in x 11 3/4 in; 31.4325 cm x 29.845 cm
Object Name:
scrapbook page
Place made:
United States: Virginia, Alexandria
Associated place:
United States: Virginia, Alexandria
Date made:
1963
Associated date:
1963-02-06
1963-02-22
Subject:
Beauty Contests & Pageants  Search this
Newspaper  Search this
Washington's Birthday  Search this
Women  Search this
Virginia  Search this
Credit Line:
Diana Thompson Vincelli in memory of Charlotte Kibbey Frey Garth Thompson and the ladies of Scroggins Road, Alexandria, Virginia
ID Number:
2003.0042.03B
Accession number:
2003.0042
Catalog number:
2003.0042.03B
See more items in:
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Family & Social Life
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746b3-ec59-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_1460432
Online Media:

Studio Portrait of Four Women Standing, Beauty Contest Winners

Created by:
Rev. Henry Clay Anderson, American, 1911 - 1998  Search this
Medium:
silver and photographic gelatin on acetate film
Dimensions:
H x W: 5 x 4 in (12.7 x 10.2 cm)
Type:
negatives
portraits
Place made:
Greenville, Washington County, Mississippi, United States
Date:
1948 - 1970s
Topic:
African American  Search this
American South  Search this
Amusements  Search this
Beauty culture  Search this
Communities  Search this
Photography  Search this
Segregation  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2007.1.69.21.42.C
Restrictions & Rights:
© Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Media Arts-Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd5e31d8b66-1a67-49a1-91bd-3f1c9b05613d
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2007.1.69.21.42.C

Harlem Beauty Contest • New York, NY

Photograph by:
Leonard Freed, American, 1929 - 2006  Search this
Subject of:
Unidentified Woman or Women  Search this
Unidentified Man or Men  Search this
Printed by:
Steinmetz Studio, French  Search this
Medium:
silver and photographic gelatin on photographic paper
Dimensions:
H x W (Image): 8 11/16 × 12 15/16 in. (22 × 32.9 cm)
H x W (Sheet): 11 x 14 in. (27.9 x 35.6 cm)
H x W (Matted): 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm)
Type:
gelatin silver prints
Place captured:
Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Date:
1963; printed 1998
Topic:
African American  Search this
Beauty culture  Search this
Fashion  Search this
Photography  Search this
Social life and customs  Search this
U.S. History, 1961-1969  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2009.10.5
Restrictions & Rights:
© Leonard Freed & Magnum Photos, Inc.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Media Arts-Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd558c4437c-bc0a-4ada-9297-2a8944e77ecc
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2009.10.5

[George Buzby with Bert Parks and a young woman, Atlantic City, N.J. : color slide (chromogenic phototransparency).]

Photographer:
Sultner-Welles, Donald H. (Sultner, Donald Harvey), 1914-1981  Search this
Names:
Miss America Pageant  Search this
Buzby, George  Search this
Parks, Bert  Search this
Collection Collector:
Sultner-Welles, Donald H. (Sultner, Donald Harvey), 1914-1981  Search this
Collection Printer:
Janus, Allan  Search this
Collection Interviewee:
Hanfstaengl, Erna  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (phototransparency, Color-dye gelatin on film,, 2-1/4" x 2-1/4")
Container:
Box 115, Sheet 49
Type:
Archival materials
Chromogenic processes
Photographs
Place:
Atlantic City (N.J.)
Date:
Circa 1964
Scope and Contents:
This photograph was probably taken at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.
Local Numbers:
AC0145-0000040.tif (AC scan no.)
Restrictions:
Unrestricted research use on site. Unprotected photographs must be handled with white cotton gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Beauty contests -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Chromogenic processes
Photographs -- 1960-1970 -- Color transparencies
See more items in:
Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection
Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection / Series 5: Transparencies / 5.6: People / A-Bu
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8af03618f-44d4-4dc1-9148-60eb130cd7d6
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0145-ref11672

Maid of Cotton Records

Creator:
Cotton Museum (Memphis, Tennessee)  Search this
National Cotton Council  Search this
Extent:
38 Cubic feet (91 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Videocassettes
Slides (photographs)
Scrapbooks
Reports
Programs
Photographs
Photograph albums
Audiotapes
Place:
Memphis (Tenn.)
Date:
1939-1994, undated
Summary:
The Maid of Cotton (MOC) beauty pageant was sponsored by the National Cotton Council, Memphis Cotton Carnival, and the Cotton Exchanges of Memphis, New York, and New Orleans from 1939-1993. The contest was held annually in Memphis, Tennessee until the National Cotton Council and Cotton Council International moved to Dallas, Texas. Beginning with the 1985 pageant (held December 1984) the competition was held in Dallas. The pageant was discontinued in 1993 due to lack of funds, a sponsor, and changes in marketing strategies. The records include files on contestants, photographs, and scrapbooks.
Scope and Contents:
The collection contains the records for the Maid of Cotton pageant (1939-1993) sponsored by the National Cotton Council (NCC), Memphis Cotton Carnival, and the Cotton Exchanges of Memphis, New York, and New Orleans. The collection consists of approximately 38 cubic feet of records created by the NCC in the course of operating the Maid of Cotton contest from 1939 to 1993. The records form the complete archive of this fifty-four year program. The records include administrative files, scrapbooks, photographs, slides, and videotapes.

"One of the main values of the Maid of Cotton collection is its completeness. These are all of the official records of the program, documenting all of its activities throughout its entire existence from 1939 to 1993. As such, it represents a truly unique documentary record and opportunity for research.

Beauty contests have been the subject of serious scholarly study for many years. A search of WorldCat reveals over fifty books on the topic. Scholars have found the subject to be a fruitful springboard from which to study a wide variety of topics, primarily centered around issues of beauty, femininity, culture values, national identity, racism, and feminism.

Beauty pageants serve as symbols that reflect the values of American culture. For example, pageant winners have symbolized the advances made by formerly disenfranchised groups. Vanessa Williams, the first African American to win the Miss America crown (1983), rewrote the definition of beauty in America, and Heather Whitestone, the first deaf Miss America (1995), proved that physical handicaps need not hold anyone back from their dreams. Pageants can provide a focus for the re-examination of our society and culture. The tragic murder of six-year-old Jonbenet Ramsey in 1996 provided a window into what author Susan Anderson calls "the extravagant world of child beauty pageants," that led to public debate about issues of motherhood and adolescence.

In addition, beauty pageants can be viewed in advertising terms: they are the ultimate expression of the tried and true adage that sex sells. All pageants have sponsors and all sponsors want their products to be seen in a positive light. Some sponsors are content to contribute goods and services to the contestants --a new car, a trip to the Caribbean, a fur coat, etc. --so that their generosity can be noted in the publicity surrounding the contest. Others prefer to sponsor the entire program. The Miss Universe contest, for example, was created in 1952 by the Jantzen Company specifically to enable the company to showcase pretty girls wearing its swimsuits. Jantzen abruptly withdrew its previous support of the Miss America pageant when Yolande Betbeze refused to wear a bathing suit during her reign as Miss America 1951. The Maid of Cotton pageant is a highly organized, year-long, very visible public relations program that allows the National Cotton Council to showcase the wonders of cotton through the wonders of young beauty queens. Attractive young women are the perfect vehicle for promoting fashionable fabrics made from cotton.

Cotton --the product at the heart of the Maid of Cotton program --has been central to American economic and political history. NMAH's collecting and research interests reflect this. The Division of Work & Industry contains numerous cotton-related objects and much documentation on the subject. The Archives Center holds several cotton-related collections, including the Peter Paul Haring Papers, 1897-1935, documenting Haring's development of cotton picking machinery; the Lockwood Greene collection of thousands of engineering drawings, many of which were for textile mills; the Robert L. Shurr Script and Scrapbook for a 1939 biographical motion picture on Dr. George Washington Carver; and the Southern Agriculture Oral History Project Records, 1985-1992, which documents modern cotton farming through photography and oral history interviews. In addition, all aspects of cotton production, from farm to factory to finished goods, are documented in several hundred photos in the Underwood & Underwood Agricultural Photonegative Collection, the Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, the Division of Work & Industry Lantern Slide Collection, and the Donald Sultner-Welles Photograph Collection. Cultural aspects of cotton can be discovered in both the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana and in the DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music." (Orr, Craig. "NMAH Collections Committee", memorandum, 2009)

Series 1, Organizational and Pageant Files, 1939-1993, undated., is arranged chronologically by year. Files may contain correspondence, photographs, news clippings, radio commercial scripts, tear sheets, itineraries, trip reports, sheet music, legal documents, waivers, and permissions, and other material related to the Maid of Cotton pageant for that year. Files may also contain subsequent personal information on the Maid of Cotton for that year, for example change of address, news clippings, and the like. This series contains finalist files, trip files and tour report files.

Series 2, Photographs, Slides, and Transparencies, 1939-1994, undated., is arranged chronologically by year. This series contains photographs, slides, and transparencies related to the Maid of Cotton and her travels throughout the United States and overseas. It also contains photographs of the fashions worn by each Maid.

Series 3, Scrapbooks, 1951-1988, contains the scrapbooks created by the National Cotton Council office as well as scrapbooks created by the Maids themselves or others for her. Scrapbooks most often contain news clippings, ephemera, and sometimes correspondence.

Series 4, Audio-Visual, 1991-1993. This series contains video and audio related to the Maid of Cotton. It is currently unprocessed.
Arrangement:
This collection is arranged into four series.

Series 1: Organizational and Pageant Files, 1939-1993, undated

Subseries 1.1: Maid of Cotton files, 1939-1993

Subseries 1.2: Little Miss Cotton, 1956-1963, undated

Series 2: Photographs, Slides, and Transparencies, 1939-1994, undated

Subseries 2.1: Photographic Negatives and Transparencies, 1939-1993, undated

Subseries 2.2: Slides, 1939-1993, undated

Series 3: Scrapbooks, 1951-1988

Series 4: Audio-Visual, 1991-1993, undated
Biographical / Historical:
The Maid of Cotton pageant began in 1939. The annual pageant was sponsored by the National Cotton Council (NCC), Memphis Cotton Carnival, and the Cotton Exchanges of Memphis, New York, and New Orleans. The pageant was held in Memphis, Tennessee, in conjunction with the Carnival until the 1980s.

In mid-December every year the NCC released a list of contestants. Contestants were required to have been born in one of the cotton-producing states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas or Virginia. They might have also been born in the cotton-producing counties of Alexander, Jefferson, Massac, Pulaski, Williamson or Madison, Illinois or in Clark or Nye counties of Nevada. There were usually twenty contestants each year.

Contestants were judged on personality, good manners, intelligence, and family background as well as beauty and an ability to model. A Top Ten were chosen and then a Top Five, and finally second and first runners up and a winner. Winners served as goodwill and fashion ambassadors of the cotton industry in a five-month, all-expense tour of American cities. In the mid-1950s the tour expanded globally. In the late 1950s a Little Miss Cotton pageant was begun but lasted only until 1963 before being discontinued. In the mid-1980s Dallas,Texas took over the pageant, in conjunction with the NCC and its overseas division, Cotton Council International. In 1986, to bolster interest and participation, the NCC eliminated the rule requiring contestants to be born in a cotton-producing state. The pageant was discontinued in 1993, one of the reasons being that Cotton Inc. stopped contributing scholarship money as well as waning public interest and changing marketing strategies. (pageantopolis.com website accessed April 2012.)

"The National Cotton Council is the official trade association of the cotton industry. The NCC was founded in 1939 to promote the interests of cotton farmers, ginners, brokers, and manufacturers from the Southern, cotton-growing states. Its mission evolved over the years as new uses for cotton and its byproducts have been found; as competition from synthetic fibers developed; as fashion tastes changed; as government regulation increased; and in response to foreign competition in both farming and manufacturing . The NCC website states that its modern-day mission is "to ensure the ability of all U.S. cotton industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad." Throughout its existence, the NCC has been the contact point for issues affecting its members, legislators in Congress, allied agribusiness, and consumers.

One of the first NCC programs undertaken by to promote the versatility and value of cotton to consumers was the Maid of Cotton program, begun in 1939. This consisted of a beauty pageant open to young women born in one of the seventeen southern cotton growing states. The contestants were evaluated on the basis of beauty, personality, poise, good manners, and intelligence; a family background in cotton production was especially helpful. The girls had to apply for selection to compete in the program. At first this was done directly to the Memphis-based program but eventually a system of state Maid of Cotton programs were established, whose winners went on to compete in the national Maid of Cotton contest. The Maid of Cotton received numerous prizes, whose value and variety tended to increase over the years. In the late 1940s, the program added a scholarship prize, probably in emulation of the Miss America contest. The Maid of Cotton pageant was held each December in Memphis as part of that city's Cotton Carnival festivities. The winner was featured prominently on her own float in the Cotton Carnival parade, was feted at prestigious Carnival events, and was treated as royalty wherever she went. Selection as the Maid of Cotton carried a high degree of status and mature ladies in the South to this day proudly identify themselves as such.

The Maid of Cotton's main function, once crowned, was to serve as a goodwill and fashion ambassador for cotton; any publicity she gained was automatically positive publicity for the cotton industry. Accompanied by an NCC-appointed manager, the Maids embarked on an all-expenses-paid tour. The Maids appeared in full regalia at public events such as county fairs, parades, and holiday events; starred in fashion shows featuring all-cotton outfits; gave speeches to local chambers of commerce and other groups; and in general were the attractive personification of the cotton industry wherever they went. At first, the tours concentrated on the cotton states but they were later extended to major cities outside the cotton belt and came to include visits to legislators on Capitol Hill. Beginning in the mid-1950s, the Maids began touring internationally and in the 1970s and 1980s they frequently headed up fashion shows in Asia.

Over time, however, the publicity value of an industry-anointed beauty queen lost its attraction both to the public and --more importantly --to the press. In addition, the role of cotton in the South, particularly in Memphis, declined. In 1986 the contest was moved from Memphis to Dallas. Eventually the cotton industry withdrew its support for the program's scholarships; the 1993 Maid of Cotton was the last to be crowned." (Orr, Craig. "NMAH Collections Committee", memorandum, 2009)
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

National Cotton Council Records, circa 1960s-1980s (AC1177)

Southern Agriculture Oral History Project Records, 1986-1991 (AC0773)
Provenance:
This collection was donated by the Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange on October 14, 2009.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but the negatives are stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Beauty contestants  Search this
Cotton textile industry  Search this
Cotton industry  Search this
Beauty contests -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Videocassettes
Slides (photographs)
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Reports
Programs -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Photograph albums -- 20th century
Audiotapes
Citation:
Maid of Cotton Records, 1939-1993, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1176
See more items in:
Maid of Cotton Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8f53d73b9-ea20-46d7-a006-fb4122e3ad71
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1176
Online Media:

Maid of Cotton, 1966, Nancy Bernard [black-and-white photoprint]

Collector:
The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange  Search this
Names:
Bernard, Nancy  Search this
Collection Creator:
Cotton Museum (Memphis, Tennessee)  Search this
National Cotton Council  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (Silver gelatin on paper., 10" x 8".)
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Arrangement:
Box No.6.
Local Numbers:
AC1176-0000009.tif (AC Scan No.)
Exhibitions Note:
Displayed in Archives Center exhibition, "The Experience of a Lifetime: The Maid of Cotton Story, 1939-1993", from December 1, 2010 to March 25, 2011. Craig Orr, curator.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but the negatives are stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Beauty contestants  Search this
Beauty contests -- United States  Search this
Cotton industry  Search this
Cotton textile industry  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 1940-2000 -- Black-and-white photoprints
Collection Citation:
Maid of Cotton Records, 1939-1993, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Maid of Cotton Records
Maid of Cotton Records / Series 1: Organizational and Pageant Files / 1.1: Maid of Cotton Files / Nancy Bernard
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8eb30545f-e249-44d3-baec-bf8220d863b1
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1176-ref690

First Maid of Cotton, 1939, Alice Hall. [black and white photoprint]

Collector:
The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange  Search this
Names:
Hall, Alice  Search this
Collection Creator:
Cotton Museum (Memphis, Tennessee)  Search this
National Cotton Council  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (Silver gelatin on paper., 9" x 7".)
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Arrangement:
Box No. Blue photo box
Local Numbers:
AC1176-0000010.tif (AC Scan No.)
Exhibitions Note:
Displayed in Archives Center exhibition, "The Experience of a Lifetime: The Maid of Cotton Story, 1939-1993", from December 1, 2010 to March 25, 2011. Craig Orr, curator.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but the negatives are stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Beauty contestants  Search this
Beauty contests -- United States  Search this
Cotton industry  Search this
Cotton textile industry  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 1930-1940
Collection Citation:
Maid of Cotton Records, 1939-1993, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Maid of Cotton Records
Maid of Cotton Records / Series 1: Organizational and Pageant Files / 1.1: Maid of Cotton Files / Alice Hall
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8b6a7263b-7a97-4632-81d7-170e01cf5d35
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1176-ref691

Maid of Cotton, 1955, DeLois Faulkner. [black and white photoprint]

Collector:
The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange  Search this
Names:
Cano, Antonio, Dr.  Search this
Faulkner, DeLois  Search this
Collection Creator:
Cotton Museum (Memphis, Tennessee)  Search this
National Cotton Council  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (Silver gelatin on paper., 5" x 7".)
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Place:
Colombia
Scope and Contents:
Medellin, Colombia, Dec. 1955. Maid of Cotton tours Tejicondor cotton mill with Dr. Antonio Cano, plant manager as host. Woven design for bedspreads and drapes in on loom
Arrangement:
Box No. 3 (blue photo box)
Local Numbers:
AC1176-0000011.tif (AC Scan No.)
Exhibitions Note:
Displayed in Archives Center exhibition, "The Experience of a Lifetime: The Maid of Cotton Story, 1939-1993", from December 1, 2010 to March 25, 2011. Craig Orr, curator.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but the negatives are stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Beauty contestants  Search this
Beauty contests -- United States  Search this
Cotton industry  Search this
Cotton textile industry  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 1940-2000 -- Black-and-white photoprints
Collection Citation:
Maid of Cotton Records, 1939-1993, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Maid of Cotton Records
Maid of Cotton Records / Series 1: Organizational and Pageant Files / 1.1: Maid of Cotton Files / DeLois J. Faulkner
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8c00a3bd3-67bf-42d5-b3ae-8e26547b6292
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1176-ref692

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