Vintage Photos Featuring The First Miss America

Gorman was a junior at Western High School in Washington, D.C. when her photo was entered into a popularity contest at the Washington Herald. She was chosen as “Miss District of Columbia” in 1921 at age 16 on account of her athletic ability, past accomplishments, and outgoing personality.

As a result of that victory, she was invited to join the Second Annual Atlantic City Pageant held on September 8, 1921, as an honored guest. There she was invited to join a new event: the “Inter-City Beauty” Contest. She won the titles “Inter-City Beauty, Amateur” and “The Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America” after competing in the Bather’s Revue. She won the grand prize, the Golden Mermaid trophy.

She was expected to defend her positions the next year, but someone else had attained the title of “Miss Washington, D.C.,” so she was instead crowned as “Miss America.” She is the only Miss America to receive her crown at the end of the year.

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1921. Inter-City Beauties Ethel Charles, Nellie Orr and Margaret Gorman at Union Station in Washington, D.C. National Photo Company glass negative via

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1921. Miss America was held for the first time to attract tourists to Atlantic City. Margaret Gorman, third on the left via

1921. Portrait of Margaret Gorman standing via

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Margaret Gorman in Birmingham car; whose reptilian body has an alligator finish, 1921. National Photo Company glass negative via

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Margaret Gorman with Long Goodie, 1925. National Photo Company Collection glass negative, Library of Congress via