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: 1951

Location: Currently on loan

Related Event: Miss America Pageant


See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Entertainment, Popular Entertainment, Clothing & Accessories, Cultures & Communities, National Treasures exhibit


Exhibition Location:

Related Web Publication: http://americanhistory.si.edu/treasures

Related Publication: National Museum of American History. Treasures of American History online exhibition

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0078.01Accession Number: 2005.0078Catalog Number: 2005.0078.01

Object Name: crowncrown, worn by Yolande B.Betbee (Fox) , Miss America 1951

Physical Description: glass (overall material)copper alloy (overall material)metal (overall material)rhinestones (overall material)Measurements: overall: 3 3/4 in x 6 in x 7 1/2 in; 9.525 cm x 15.24 cm x 19.05 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ab-a059-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1289940

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.