The Smithsonian Museum of American History Unveils 'Miss America, 1921: How It All Began' Exhibit

Tuesday, 27 February 2024 21:29

The Smithsonian Museum of American History Unveils 'Miss America, 1921: How It All Began' Exhibit Featured

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Washington D.C. - The Smithsonian Museum of American History proudly presented its latest exhibit, 'Miss America, 1921: How It All Began.' This exhibit takes visitors on a journey back in time to the year that marked the birth of the iconic Miss America pageant.

The exhibit was organized  in part by Valerie Crooker Clemens, Miss Maine 1980, who in 2019 sought a way to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Miss America. Clemens donated items from her personal Miss America collection to the Smithsonian Museum to be showcased in the exhibit.

“I sincerely respect each Miss America and their place in our collective history.  This is a movement to have all Miss Americas and the Miss America Opportunity featured in the Smithsonian’s Miss America Collection,” says Valerie Crooker Clemens.

Former Miss Americas, the CEO of Miss America, Robin Fleming, and the reigning Miss America, Madison Marsh, were among the esteemed guests who attended the opening of the exhibit, celebrating the rich history and enduring legacy of the Miss America pageant.

Amy Argetsinger, Washington Post journalist, and author of There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America, presented a lecture exploring the triumphs and historical significance of Miss America and shared the inspiring stories of the women who represented the organization over decades of social change.

Following the lecture, attendees were given the opportunity to view artifacts from the National Museum of American History’s ‘Miss America, 1921: How It All Began’ exhibit, hear from curators Ryan Lintelman and Jane Rogers about collecting the objects, and meet former Miss America titleholders, who shared anecdotes about the items they donated for viewing at the exhibit.

Pictured L to R: Nicole Johnson (1999), Nina Davuluri (2014), Heather Whitestone (1995), Madison Marsh (2024), BeBe Shopp (1948), Dolly Fox representing her mother Yolande Betbeze (1951), Angela Perez Baraquio (2001)

With five former Miss Americas in attendance, BeBe Shopp (1948), Heather Whitestone (1995), Nicole Johnson (1999), Angela Perez Baraquio (2001), and Nina Davuluri (2014) the opening of the 'Miss America, 1921: How It All Began' exhibit was a momentous occasion. These remarkable women, who have left an indelible mark on the Miss America legacy, served as a testament to the enduring impact of the pageant. 


For more information about Miss America Madison Marsh and her future appearances, please visit

About Miss America:Miss America is the nation's premier empowerment platform for young women, advancing their personal and professional goals while advocating serving as a positive role model in their communities. With a rich history dating back to 1921, Miss America’s mission is “Empowering women to Lead” engaging thousands of young women as local and state brand ambassadors, ages 14-28, nationwide each year committed to community service initiatives. The program is the largest provider of women’s scholarships in America, distributed through the Miss America’s Scholarship Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3).


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