1920-1950

In the late 1920s, Mobile's Junior Chamber of Commerce, better known today as the Jaycees began the earliest form of the Junior Miss program as an annual floral pageant in the spring to encourage participation from residents in local beautification projects, including azalea flowers. The winner of the pageant would eventually choose her successor to carry on the role of representing the annual program; an act similar to what every America's Junior Miss has done a year after winning the title, but it's the judges who decide first. Shortly after the Second World War, the Junior Chamber changed the program especially for young high school seniors to participate. Prizes included the honor of being queen of the Azalea Trail Maids, Mobile's official hostesses at special events. Before 1957, the Junior Chamber realized that not only were Mobilians participating in their program, so were Mississippi and Florida residents. It was decided that year to make the program national, allowing high school seniors from every state to participate in the renamed Junior Miss America Pageant. Unlike the Miss America pageant, Junior Miss America did not judge on beauty, but on talent, fitness, poise, and scholastic achievement. The first national finals were held in March 1958 at the Saenger Theater in downtown Mobile, with 18 states being represented and a budget of $10,000 in scholarship money. Phyllis Whitenack of West Virginia would leave Mobile with $5000 to attend college, along with the title of Junior Miss America. Junior Miss America would become America's Junior Miss in 1959.

Site Map