This collection consists of 2,931 slides taken by Lawrence V. Smith of the following aircraft and spacecraft: Bell AH-1W (AH-1T+) SuperCobra; Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Huey); Sikorsky (S-70B) SH-60B Seahawk; Sikorsky (S-80) CH-53E Super; North American F-100 Super Sabre; Lockheed P-3 Orion; Grumman F-14 Tomcat; General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon; Lockheed C-130 Hercules; Skylab, Skylab 2; and (Space Shuttle) Endeavour (OV-15). The collection also contains slides of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia; the National Air and Space Museum; and general military shots of parachutists, military vehicles, marine landings and military air stations.
Biographical / Historical:
Lawrence V. Smith (1931-2010) was an Emmy Award-winning photographer. He received a bachlelor's degree in Education, majoring in Physical Science from Illinois State University and then began work on a Doctorate in biochemistry at Iowa State College. After a semester at Iowa State, Smith dropped out and accepted a position as a chemist at the US Rubber Company in Joliet, Illinois. Having lost his student exemption, Smith was drafted in the Army where he was an electronics instructor for the Nike guided missile system. During the mid-1950s he started to become involved in motion picture when he filmed an air show crash and sold the footage to the Today Show. Highlights of Smith's career include: his work as a CBS cameraman in Cuba, where he traveled with Castro during the Cuban Revolution, earning him his first Emmy; his work as a cameraman/correspondent for ABC-TV during the early states of the Vietnam War in 1965, garnering him his second Emmy; and his work as director of photography for Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom where he won two more Emmy award certificates. Smith worked under contract for the US Information Agency (USIA) specializing in helicopter photography of Apollo missions 11 through 16 and later covered aspects of the Skylab Program. Smith later had several independent film companies in Jacksonville Florida, where he expanded into video and began his own image library, specializing in transportation photography.
Linda Lockwood Smith, Gift, 2016
No restrictions on access.
145 Film reels (143 16mm film reels - runtime of 40:24:65
2 35mm film reels - runtime of 58:23)
Sound tape reels
Electronic discs (cd)
Motion pictures (visual works)
The documentary film Growing Up With Rockets, produced by Vanguard Productions and Nancy Yasecko and released in 1984, is the story and personal reminiscences of the children, now grown, of those who worked at Cape Canaveral. The film discusses the Bumper Project (using captured V-2 missiles after World War II); Sputnik; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs; and ends with the first flight of Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) in 1981. Nancy Yasecko offers first person commentary with rare archival film, newsreels, excerpts from NASA promotional films, home movies and contemporary footage.
In 1990, under the auspices of Citizen Exchange Council (CEC), a NY-based Soviet-American exchange organization, Growing Up With Rockets was included in the American Documentary Showcase. The Showcase was the first uncensored collection of American documentary films ever to reach general audiences across the USSR.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of approximately thirteen cubic feet of material related to the production and marketing of the documentary film Growing Up With Rockets including audio tapes; motion picture film and video recordings, scripts, post-production notes, reference material, correspondence, financial information, interview transcripts, news clippings, information regarding distribution contracts, event programs, photographs, and project descriptions and flowcharts.
The researcher should note that the collection also contains 16mm film and rollettes, U-Matic cassettes, VHS tapes, 1 inch videotape, 3/4 inch videotape, and DVD. There are 191 motion picture items totaling 75:51:35. Audio tape formats include compact disc; 1/4 inch reel to reel; audio cassettes; and records in various sizes. There are 128 audio items in total. These items are not included in the container list but a NASM Archives staff person can assist you regarding access.
Organized into 6 series:
Series 1: Production
Series 2: Events
Series 3: Publicity
Series 4: Reference
Series 5: Other
Series 6: Oversize
This collection was arranged at the time of processing to better reflect its main areas of subject matter.
Within series, file units were placed in chronological order with undated material placed at the end of the
series. Original folder titles were kept. Archivist's description appears below folder titles.
Biographical / Historical:
Nancy Yasecko is a media artist and educator who grew up and is still living on the Space Coast of Florida. She graduated from Cocoa Beach High School in 1972,and received her B.A. from the University of South Florida in 1975, and her M.A. in Instructional Technology from the University of Central Florida 1997.
Nancy Yasecko is also the proprietor of Vanguard Productions, located on Merritt Island, FL, a producer of film and video for PBS broadcast and non-profit and governmental organizations.
Her film Growing Up with Rockets was included with the first group of US documentaries to be screened in the former Soviet Union in the American Documentary Showcase, Glastnost Tour 1990.
Nancy Yasecko, Vanguard Productions, gift, 2012
No restrictions on access.
The collection includes 188 glass lantern slides that Durant shot during the tours; the slides were hand-colored by the photographer Edward Van Altena. There are thirteen reels of motion picture film, including "A Safari of Twenty Five Thousand Miles through Ten Countries in Silver Wings", a film on Durant's African flights. The collections includes four DVDs: a digitized copy of "A Safari of Twenty Five Thousand Miles ..."; "The Romance of Flight", a short film by Durant's husband Fitzhugh Green; digitized film footage of Paris; and scans of the lantern slides in jpeg format. Also included is a copy of the book "Margery Durant Goes to Africa 1931-2" by Alexander Sanger, Durant's grandson; a short biography of Durant by Mr. Sanger, and photocopied New York Times articles on the tours.
Biographical / Historical:
Margery Durant was born in Flint, Michigan on May 24, 1887, the daughter of Clara Pitt Durant and William C. Durant, founder of General Motors. She attended schools in Flint; in Tarrytown, New York; and at the Mt. Vernon Seminary, Washington, D.C., from 1903 to 1905. Durant settled in Flint, later moving to Detroit and New York City and maintaining residences on Long Island, in Palm Beach, Florida, and in New Zealand. With her husband, Robert W. Daniel, she restored Brandon, an 18th century plantation on the James River, Virginia, now a National Historic Landmark. In 1929, she wrote (with Fitzhugh Green, later her fourth husband) My Father, a biography of William C. Durant. Margery Durant died in Palm Beach on February 3, 1969, at the age of 82.
Though not a pilot, in 1930 Margery Durant conceived of a plan to popularize private air travel by touring Europe, the Middle East and Africa by air. With Charles A. LaJotte (1895-1973) serving as pilot and Everett M. Smith as mechanic and with her Lockheed Vega 5C (named Ariel) stowed on board, Durant sailed to Europe on board the SS Hamburg in April, 1931. Over a three month period, Durant traveled over 12,000 miles, visiting England, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine and the Balkans. On her second tour, from December 1931 through May 1932, Durant visited England, France, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda in a Sikorsky S-38 Amphibian, the Silver Wings.
Alexander Sanger, Gift, 2011
No restrictions on access.
This collection consists of over nine cubic feet of material documenting Scott Crossfield's aviation career, with emphasis on his involvement with the North American X-15. The following types of material are included: correspondence; reel to reel tapes; papers, manuscripts; newspaper and magazine clippings; aviation manuals; photographs; film; and Crossfield's notes and reports.
Scope and Content note:
This collection encompasses the entirety of Albert Scott "Scotty" Crossfield, Jr.'s career as an engineer, test pilot, airline executive, and speaker and advocate for aerospace education. Records in the collection date from Crossfield's time at college in the 1940s through his death in 2006. Crossfield's papers were donated to the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Archives by the Crossfield family in 2006 and a second batch of material was received in 2008. The collection was received without any apparent organizational scheme, but some items were received in labeled folders and these folder titles were retained when the collection was processed. One group of material was loaned by the family for copying and these items were photocopied and placed within the appropriate folder in the case of documents, or were scanned and entered into the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Archives image database in the case of photographs.
After his retirement from North American Aviation, Inc., Crossfield gave his papers to a former secretary, Marion Brown, so that she could organize them for his use in future writing projects. In February 1973, a U.S. Navy Vought A-7E Corsair II crashed into the apartment building where Brown lived and all of Crossfield's papers in her possession were destroyed. Due to this incident, the collection has more material from Crossfield's time with Eastern Airlines and onwards, although the prior years are still well represented through records that were either retained in Crossfield's possession or copies that were gathered after the fact. There is correspondence from Crossfield relating to the crash in Box 11 of the collection.
The archival materials in this collection are organized into four series. The first series is composed of personal materials and includes school records, correspondence, personal photographs, records relating to various organizations in which Crossfield was active, information relating to the publication of Crossfield's autobiography, Always Another Dawn, other writings by Crossfield, financial records, subject files assembled by Crossfield, philatelic materials (Crossfield was an active collector and was a founding member and officer of The Aviation Historical Foundation, a philatelic organization), and news clippings. The material in this series is largely organized chronologically. Personal photographs and subject files are organized by topic first and chronologically within each folder and organizations are arranged alphabetically by name first and also chronologically within the individual folders.
The second series contains items relating to Crossfield's professional life, organized chronologically by place of employment. This series includes materials relating to Crossfield's work at Boeing, the U.S. Navy, the Kirsten Wind Tunnel at the University of Washington Aeronautical Laboratory, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), North American Aviation, Inc., Eastern Airlines, Hawker Siddeley Aviation, Crossfield's work as an Independent Technical Advisor, Crossfield's application for the position of Director of the National Air and Space Museum, Crossfield's time as a member of the United States Organizing Committee, and his work with organizations such as the Scott Crossfield Foundation and The Wright Experience. During the later part of his life, Crossfield toured the country extensively giving speeches, presenting awards, etc. and there is a large amount of material relating to these appearances in this part of the collection. These materials arrived already organized chronologically by individual trip and this organizational scheme was retained. Specifically, the professional life series includes flight reports, manuals, drawings, business correspondence, administrative records, presentations and papers, travel itineraries, notebooks, calendars, speeches delivered by Crossfield, and career related photographs (which are broken out as their own subseries). The professional life series also includes a section of miscellaneous professional items including job seeking correspondence, information on the patent for a power wheel braking or driving unit designed by Crossfield, and a folder of Crossfield's résumés.
The third series consists of audiotapes and is organized first by tape format and then chronologically within each category. Subjects of the audiotapes include speeches, a large number of North American X-15 cockpit recordings and radio communications, tape produced for a television program, and autobiographical notes. A number of the audiotapes include no description. With a total of 65 examples in this series, the most common audiotape format in the collection is, by far, 7 inch reel to reel tapes. Other formats in this series include 5 inch reel to reel tapes, 3.125 by 3.5 inch metal audiotape cartridges, and Dictaphone recording belts. Please note that these audio recordings are unavailable to the researcher at the time of processing due to the format and fragility of the tapes.
The fourth series of this collection is comprised of oversized materials including galley proofs, news clippings, drawings, charts, professional records, and photographs. The organization of this series mirrors the folder titles found in the rest of the collection.
The researcher should note that the collection also contains several motion picture films relating to the life and career of Albert Scott "Scotty" Crossfield, Jr. These films are not included in the container list but a NASM Archives staff person can assist you regarding access.
The A. Scott Crossfield Papers are organized into the following series and subseries:
Series I: Personal Materials
1.1 School Records
1.3 Personal Photographs
1.5 Information Related to the Publication of Always Another Dawn
1.6 Other Writings by Crossfield
1.7 Financial Records
1.8 Subject Files
1.9 Philatelic Materials
1.10 News Clippings
1.11 Miscellaneous Personal Records
Series II: Professional Life
2.2 U.S. Navy
2.3 Kirsten Wind Tunnel, University of Washington Aeronautical Laboratory
2.4 National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
2.5 North American Aviation, Inc.
2.6 Eastern Airlines
2.7 Hawker Siddeley Aviation
2.8 Independent Technical Advisor
2.9 Application for NASM Director Position
2.10 United States Organizing Committee
2.11 Scott Crossfield Foundation
2.12 The Wright Experience
2.13 Speaking Engagements and Professional Appearances
2.14 Career Related Photographs
2.14 Miscellaneous Professional Records
Series III: Audiotapes
Series IV: Oversized Materials
Albert Scott "Scotty" Crossfield, Jr. was born on October 2, 1921, in California. As a young boy, Crossfield was often confined indoors due to health problems related to pneumonia and rheumatic fever. During this time, he dreamed of becoming a pilot and designed and constructed model airplanes. Crossfield took his first airplane ride in 1927, at six years old, in an Alexander Eaglerock A-1 piloted by family friend Charles "Carl" Lienesch. Lienesch also encouraged Crossfield to become an engineer as well as a pilot. Unbeknownst to Crossfield's parents, he began taking flying lessons at the age of 12 at Wilmington Airport under the tutelage of pilot Vaughn McNulty. The family later moved to Washington State and it was there, at the Chehalis Airport, that Crossfield made his first solo flight in a Curtiss Robin. It was not until the summer of 1941, however, that Crossfield officially soloed and earned his pilot's license under the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA), Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP).
Crossfield enrolled in the University of Washington in 1940 and worked at the Boeing plant in Seattle, beginning in the fall of 1941, while still pursuing his studies. Crossfield's first assignment at Boeing was as an assembly page clerk. He was later promoted to the position of production expediter and shop salvage engineer. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Crossfield enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and continued to work at Boeing while he waited for an opening in a cadet class. In February 1942, tired of waiting on the Air Corps and eager to get into combat, Crossfield enlisted in the U.S. Navy instead where he joined the cadet class of May 7, 1942. Crossfield first trained in Seattle, Washington, and later was sent to the Naval Air Training Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he earned his Naval Aviator's wings in 1942. During his time in the Navy, Crossfield never fulfilled his ambition to see combat because he was selected instead to remain at Corpus Christi as a flight and gunnery instructor. Crossfield eventually was sent to Hawaii to prepare and train for an invasion of Japan but the war ended before this became necessary. During his time in the U.S. Navy, Crossfield flew the Grumman F6F Hellcat, Vought F4U Corsair, and the North American SNJ Texan, among other aircraft. After he separated from active duty with the Service, Crossfield remained active in the Naval Reserves and was part of an aerobatic team at Sand Point Naval Air Station that flew Goodyear FG-1D Corsairs.
Crossfield returned to his studies at the University of Washington in 1946 and was employed doing tests at the Kirsten Wind Tunnel at the University's Aeronautical Laboratory. Crossfield earned his Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1949 and his master's degree in aeronautical science in 1950. After obtaining his degrees, Crossfield joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as a research pilot. During his time with NACA, Crossfield flew many aircraft including the Convair XF-92A, Bell X-1, Northrop X-4 Bantam, Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak, Bell X-5, Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, North American F-86 Sabre, and the North American F-100A Super Sabre. Crossfield made history in the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket on November 20, 1953, as the first pilot to exceed Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound).
In 1955, Crossfield left NACA and joined North American Aviation, Inc. to work on the X-15 program where he would not only serve as the X-15 Project Pilot but also as a Design Specialist, a role in which he was an integral part of the design of both the aircraft and the pressure suit developed by the David Clark Company for the X-15 program. The suit served as a prototype for the spacesuits later worn by astronauts. Crossfield helped to develop the X-15's cockpit, control, and engine systems; structural design; propulsion system; engineered its escape system; and contributed to its handling quality requirements. He also developed the ground control test methodology that would later become standard on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs. Crossfield piloted the North American X-15 on its first captive flight in March 1959, first glide flight in June 1959, and the first powered flight in September 1959, as well as numerous other test flights, before the X-15 was delivered to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in February 1960. Crossfield also served as Chief Engineering Test Pilot at North American from 1955-1961 before moving to the Space and Information Systems Division first as the Director of Systems Test (1961) then as the Division Director of Test and Quality Assurance (1961-1966) where he was responsible for quality control in all North American projects including the Hounddog Missile (AGM-28, GAM-77), Paragliders for the Gemini program, Apollo Command and Service Module, and the Saturn V launch vehicles, second stage. Crossfield's final position with North American was as the Technical Director, Research, Engineering and Test from 1966-1967.
Crossfield joined Eastern Airlines in Miami, Florida, as Division Vice President, Flight, Research, and Development, Flight Operations in 1967, a position he held until 1971 when he moved to Washington, DC, to serve as Staff Vice President, Transportation Systems Development (1971-1973). From 1974 to 1975, Crossfield served as Senior Vice President at Hawker Siddeley Aviation's U.S. subsidiary branch, an office he helped to establish. After leaving Hawker Siddeley, Crossfield served for many years as an independent technical advisor to the U.S. Congress. Crossfield also served on the United States Organizing Committee to plan the Air and Space Bicentennial. In the later part of his life, Crossfield traveled extensively to give talks, attend events, and make various professional appearances and it was on a return flight home from one such trip in 2006 that Crossfield was killed when the plane he was piloting was caught in a thunderstorm.
Crossfield was active in various organizations including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP), a group in which he was a founding member. Crossfield also created the Scott Crossfield Foundation to support aerospace education. Crossfield was the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Sperry (Lawrence B.) Memorial Award (1954) and Chanute (Octave) Award (AIAA, 1958), Kincheloe Award (SETP, 1960), Harmon Trophy (1960), Collier (Robert J.) Trophy (1961), NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1993), and the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Trophy for Lifetime Achievement (2000).
Crossfield published his autobiography, Always Another Dawn, in 1960 with Clay Blair, Jr. and is the author of numerous other publications, articles, and technical papers.
Alice Crossfield, Gift, 2006
No restrictions on access.
This collection consists of ten cubic feet of magazines, newspaper articles, flight sequences, photographs, correspondence and airshow programs chronicling the aerobatic career of Patty Wagstaff.
Biographical / Historical:
In 1991, Patty Wagstaff became the first woman to win the title of US National Aerobatic Champion, a title she then successfully defended in 1992 and 1993. Wagstaff, now based in St. Augustine, Florida, was raised in Japan and worked as a model and a shipwreck diver in Australia before moving to Alaska in 1978. There she began flight instruction in a Cessna 185 on floats and earned her private pilot license in 1979. Wagstaff moved quickly to earn her commercial and instrument ratings for single and multiengine aircraft and seaplanes. She entered her first aerobatic competition in 1984 and moved to the Unlimited category (most proficient) in only two years. Wagstaff was a six-time member of the US Aerobatic Team, which competes in world competition every two years, until her retirement from competition in 1996. Today, Wagstaff is a premier aerobatic pilot in air shows throughout the United States, performing dynamic and precise routines in her Extra 300L. She is also a commercially rated helicopter pilot, a flight instructor for unlimited aerobatics, and she flies for motion pictures and television. Wagstaff is a four-time winner of the Betty Skelton First Lady of Aerobatics Trophy and was the 1995 recipient of the National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement in Aviation. She has written, with Ann Cooper, her autobiography, Fire and Air: A Life on the Edge. The aircraft in which she became US National Aerobatic Champion is the Extra 260, a German-built aircraft which is on display in the Pioneers of Flight gallery of the National Air and Space Museum. In 2004, Wagstaff was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
Patty Wagstaff, Gift, 2005
No restrictions on access.
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Collection, Acc. 1992.0023, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
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.
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)
Materials in the Archives Center
National Cotton Council Records, circa 1960s-1980s (AC1177)
Southern Agriculture Oral History Project Records, 1986-1991 (AC0773)
This collection was donated by the Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange on October 14, 2009.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-633-3270.
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.