Scope and Contents
The collection consists of approximately six cubic feet of Miss Slaughter's personal papers, 1935-2001. They document her reign as director of the pageant as well as her post-retirement activities, during which she kept in close contact with the pageant and her "girls." These are the papers of the woman who gave the Miss America pageant the classic elements for which it is known --elements which have been copied by virtually every other beauty contest.
The collection primarily consists of official pageant materials, such as programs, photos, internal memos, correspondence, manuals, scholarship information, news clippings, publications, and a reel of film. The pageant programs date from 1960-2003. Official correspondence, memos and telegrams document her work as pageant director. Some deals with major corporations, such as Pepsi, Cadillac Motors, and Toni, whom she solicited as sponsors. Others are with dozens of Miss Americas, from both during and after her reign as director. Political material includes correspondence with political figures whose participation in publicity activities she sought, including Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator Barry Goldwater; there is also an invitation to the Kennedy inauguration and a photo of her at the 1948 inaugural ball. Several hundred official photos document both the pageants held in Atlantic City but also the subsequent publicity activities in which Miss Americas engaged during their year-long reigns. Miss Slaughter was often featured in these photos, as well. A 1950 photo from the Indianapolis Speedway, for instance, shows her in a race car, with the official pace car --sponsored by Miss America --in the background. The photos date from 1935-1967, are primarily 8"x10" in size, are about 85% in black and white, and are all captioned on the back by Miss Slaughter. News clippings and magazine articles, 1935-1969, document the pageant and public relations activities of the Miss Americas --most of which Miss Slaughter arranged and organized. Of special interest are pageant production manuals, such as a 1962 staging manual, a 1966 television production manual, a manual on "How to direct and produce a preliminary pageant," and an official press guide. Finally, there is a single intriguing 16mm film reel with no identifying marks whatsoever. It may contain behind-the scenes footage from one or more pageants.
The collection also includes materials from her private life. Since her personal life was so inextricably bound up with the pageant, these contain a wealth of casual, behind-the-scenes information about the pageant. Other personal materials document aspects of ordinary life that are of proven interest to NMAH and its researchers: her wedding photo album and congratulatory cards; personal photo albums documenting travel, including camping in a travel trailer; Christmas parties and birthday celebrations; greeting cards for significant occasions; and snapshots. Correspondence, 1935-1976, includes political figures, friends, Miss Americas, and corporate executives. Many of her personal photos include political figures; for example, there is one of her with President and Mrs. George Bush.