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1999 America Junior Miss Awards
1999 America Junior Miss Awards Photo - Joseph Dayyeh

America's Junior Miss

The national scholarship program, America's Junior Miss, began as part of a community floral festival to become a program in which thousands of high school senior girls participate in approximately 600 Junior Miss competitions each year. Headquartered in Mobile, it is now the oldest and largest scholarship program for girls.

In the late 1920s, the Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce, now called Jaycees, began the annual Azalea Trail Festival to encourage community participation in city beautification projects. After World War II, the Jaycees invited local high school senior girls to compete for modest awards, plus the title of Azalea Trail Queen. Over the years the pageant grew, and girls from other southern states were also competing. In 1957, the program was incorporated and renamed the Junior Miss American Pageant. (The Azalea Trail Festival continues as a separate activity.)

In 1958, the program presented $10,000 in scholarship awards to finalists. The following year, the organization revised its name to America's Junior Miss Pageant. By the 1999 finals, 2,061 girls had participated as state Junior Miss representatives. Scholarship offerings have also increased to $50,000-plus to the winning Junior Miss. Judging criteria are based on achievement and personal development. Girls compete in the areas of scholarship, talent, fitness and poise. Among Junior Miss winners who have become nationally known in their careers are Diane Sawyer, Mary Frann, Kim Crosby Westenberg, Julie Bryan Moran, and Deborah Norville.

Documentation includes a text report, photographs and a video.

Originally submitted by: Sonny Callahan, Representative (1st District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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