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A History of Beauty Pageants & Miss America Timeline: Part 1

Jan 23, 2012

Today beauty pageants are judged on a variety of talents, beauty (aka how you look in the perfect pageant dress) and your knowledge, but this wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, beauty pageants were based on just the beauty and size of the participant. Since you’re going to be highly knowledgeable for the question and answer portion of the pageant, we’ve provided a timeline of how the beauty pageant has evolved for your reference. Study well, so you’re prepared for ALL questions!

beauty pageant gowns


  • The tradition of the beauty pageant arrived in America and started in Atlantic City, NJ. The pageant was designed to keep tourists interested in the area beyond the summer months and Labor Day. The pageant’s goal? To find the best bathing beauty in America.
  • The title the winner would hold would be “Miss America.” Eight lovely ladies competed for the title the first year and Miss Washington D.C. was crowned the winner.


  • Mary Katherine Campbell became the only woman to win the Miss America Title two consecutive years in a row.
  • The number of contestants grew to 70.

1929 -1932

  • During this time, there were no Miss American pageants due to the Great Depression. How sad!


  • The Miss America pageants started again under new management. They didn’t see much success.

Next week, we’ll come back with the ‘comeback’ of the Miss America pageant!

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