Miss America Crown

Yolande Betbeze, "the Basque spitfire," surprised Atlantic City and the nation in 1951 when she was named Miss America. The former Miss Alabama beat out over forty fair-haired, fair-skinned state champions with her dramatic singing performance and her undeniable Iberian beauty. Of Basque heritage, Betbeze tested the limits of a system that in the 1950s was still basing its standards on an ethnically and racially narrow definition of feminine beauty.
Betbeze would go on to continue testing the Miss America institution with her refusal to parade in a bathing suit and, after her reign, with her advocacy of women's and minority rights, her political activism, and ultimately her generous donation of this, her original 1951 crown, to the Smithsonian Institution in 2005.
Date made
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
rhinestones (overall material)
overall: 3 3/4 in x 6 in x 7 1/2 in; 9.525 cm x 15.24 cm x 19.05 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Miss America Pageant
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Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Cultures & Communities
National Treasures exhibit
Clothing & Accessories
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Data Source
National Museum of American History


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