What Was Miss America Like 100 Years Ago?

Ruth Malcomson, Miss America 1924

And the 1924 Miss America crown goes to… Ruth Malcomson! 

The Miss America competition wasn’t always the televised event known around the world for the flood of tears, shocking reactions, and flowers. Almost 100 years ago, Miss America was just a small-run pageant held in none other than Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The 1924 competition looks very different from what the competition looks like today. And definitely was not at the same level of Hollywood glamor and intensity we see in “Miss Congeniality.” Nonetheless, it was a very popular competition that still draws in a lot of attention from the public, as well as girls all across the country.

So what was this famous pageant like 100 years ago? Here are 10 facts you didn’t know about the 1924 Miss America pageant and its winner, Ruth Malcomson!

1. The Miss America competition in 1924 was the fourth year the competition was running. 

The first pageant, called then the “Atlantic City Pageant,” was held in 1921. Originally, the pageant was a way to encourage visitors to stay in the Atlantic City resort past Labor Day. The very first Miss America winner was Margaret Gorman, Miss Washington, DC, and she received a statue of a golden mermaid.

The first Miss America had 8 contestants. Winner Margaret Gorman is pictured on the far left in the white hat. (Image via Atlantic City Heritage Collections)

2. It was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey

More specially, the 1924 Miss America was held at the Million Dollar Pier.

Ruth Malcomson
Image Source: Library of Congress

3. The winner was 18-year old Ruth Malcomson

Ruth was previously crowned Miss Philadelphia.

Miss America, Ruth Malcomson, and her mother, Augusta (Image Source: US Library of Congress)

4. Ruth Malcomson competed against over 80 other contestants. 

This was the largest number of contestants in the history of Miss America

5. Ruth beat Mary Campbell from Columbus, Ohio. 

Mary was crowned Miss America in 1922 and 1923. She is only two-time winner and was on her way to being a three-time winner, but Ruth had been crowned instead.

Portrait of Mary Catherine Campbell (Image Source: Official Miss America Organization)

6. At the time that Ruth had won, the title she was given was called the “Golden Mermaid.”

You may be wondering: What does a mermaid have to do with a beauty pageant? Well, since the Miss America pageant was frequently held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on the Pier near the Atlantic Ocean; the pageant was referred to as the “The Atlantic City Pageant.” 

Malcomson crowned “The Golden Mermaid,” Miss America 1924

7. Despite being a winner, Ruth Malcomson was not a fan of the competition. 

Ruth actually publicly criticized the pageant in 1925. She stated that: “The pageant now has become nothing but a commercial proposition to exploit the beauties who make their living from their good looks. What chance has an ordinary girl, untrained, to win a contest in which girls who have been trained to make the most of their beauty are competing?”

8. During an interview with the Liberty Magazine, Ruth clapped back at women’s rights groups.

Some women’s rights groups berated and mocked Ruth for being a contestant in the Miss America competition. She also pointed out the fact that these women attacked and tried to tear her down specifically rather than attacking the organization

9. This Is How Miss America’s Ruth Malcomson Stayed in Shape in 1924

Want to be as beautiful and elegant as Miss America 1924? Start taking notes because Ruth shared her list of the 10 things she does to stay in top Miss America shape:

  1. Rise early
  2. Eat a hearty breakfast
  3. Exercise
  4. No alcohol
  5. Smoking is detrimental
  6. Get outdoors
  7. Eat a light lunch
  8. Eat a satisfying dinner
  9. Early to bed
  10. Sleep
George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

See the evolution of Miss America from the first pageant in 1921 to 2015!

Share the Post:

Read These Next

The Reign of Terror

Dear History Enthusiast, In this special edition of the Historyinmemes Newsletter, we delve into a tumultuous period of history marked

Read More

Disaster Strikes

Dear History Enthusiast, In this edition of the Historyinmemes Newsletter, we journey back in time to the ancient Roman city

Read More

Woodstock Festival

Dear History Enthusiast, In this special edition of the Historyinmemes Newsletter, we journey back to the iconic Woodstock Festival, a

Read More

The Clovis People

Dear History Enthusiast, In this special edition of the Historyinmemes Newsletter, we journey back in time to uncover the mysteries

Read More

The Trail of Tears

Dear History Enthusiast, In this special edition of the Historyinmemes Newsletter, we delve into the heart-wrenching chapter of American history

Read More

The Spice Routes

Dear History Enthusiast, Welcome to another exciting edition of the Historyinmemes Newsletter! Today, we go into a tantalizing journey down

Read More