The Experience of a Lifetime: The Maid of Cotton Story, 1939-1993

December 9, 2010 – March 25, 2011

National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

1st Floor, West Wing (outside the Archives Center) Floor Plan

In changing display cases, the Archives Center features items from the museum's archival collection that document America's history and its diverse cultures, ranging from correspondences, diaries, financial and legal documents, photographs, and sound recordings. The following case is on view:

The Experience of a Lifetime: The Maid of Cotton Story, 1939-1993

In several cases are archival materials from the 54-year history of the Maid of Cotton beauty pageant, including photographs of contestants, publicity campaigns, advertisements, and part of an entrant’s application. Contestants depicted include the first Maid of Cotton Alice Hall (1939) and Maid Alice Corr, who appeared on the cover of Farm and Ranch in 1953. Each winner of the Maid of Cotton pageant served as the American cotton industry’s goodwill ambassador and often took part in fashion shows and photo shoots around the world. To illustrate the contestants' travels, the display also includes a copy of the 1985 Japanese edition of Cotton Promotion, which features a Maid of Cotton winner on the cover and many photos of Maids posing by such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal.