San Diego County Pageants
Women’s Museum of California Archives
Guide to the San Diego County Pageants Collection
Bulk Dates: 1965-2002
Title: San Diego County Pageants Collection, 1965-2002
Accession Number: AC-013
Finding Aid Prepared By: Agata Skinner
Head Archivist: Charla Wilson
Date Acquired: Unknown; Collection logged: January 5, 2012
Date Processed: January 5, 2015
Location: Women’s Museum of California
Language: Collection material is in English
Extent: Two boxes
Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research
Use Restrictions: None
AC-006 Women’s Club
Origins of beauty pageants are found in Greek mythology. The Judgment of Paris, the story about the dispute between goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, which Paris resolved, is considered to be the first example of beauty competitions. Another event in history, which possibly led to the birth of the modern beauty pageant, is the medieval European festival, also known as May Day. The celebration usually included the selection of a young woman, who was crowned, which symbolized beauty and fertility. It was not until the twentieth century that modern-day beauty pageants gained popularity. At this point, competitions featured young women who displayed beauty, charm, talent, eloquence and personality at local, national, and international levels. Pageants aimed to promote young, self-confident women, who would be role models, and who would represent their community with charm and dignity.
Brief History of the San Diego County Page
Beauty pageants gained popularity in San Diego County in the 1960’s when numerous districts organized small local contests. Local pageants mainly focused on community service, public speaking, networking and interview skills. Contestants’ scores were based on a speech; a personal interview; poise; personality; evening gown wear; and responses to on-stage impromptu questions.
The Miss Clairemont Pageant is one of numerous local beauty pageants in San Diego County. The Miss Clairemont Pageant began in 1965 and was organized by The Clairemont Women’s Club, which was hosted in the Clairemont High School Auditorium. The Clairemont Women’s Club (C.W.C.) was a non-profit organization, founded in 1954 and dedicated to the improvement of the community. Some of these efforts included raising funds for various local centers and organizations, such as local libraries, Make a Wish Foundation, the Clairemont Boys and Girls Club, and providing scholarships to the Miss Clairemont Pageant. The C.W.C chairman Ruth Johnson and her daughter Maureen Atwell, organized the Miss Clairemont Pageant. The women emphasized the importance of the contest because it promoted women’s empowerment, encouraged self-confidence and leadership in the contestants. The annual competition was canceled twice, once in 1996 (due to teacher strikes) and in the other in 2000.
While each local pageant had its own competition, The Fairest of the Fair was organized from 1936 through 2004 for all pageant winners to compete. It was eventually discontinued due to high costs. The winner was originally called the Queen of the Fair, but the title was changed to Fairest of the Fair in 1947. The pageant was part of the events of the annual San Diego County Fair (previously known as the Del Mar Fair), which originated in 1880 as an agricultural fair. The object of the Fairest of the Fair contest was to select a winner who would be the female opposite of Don Diego, the fairs’ official host as portrayed by Spanish actor Tommy Hernandez from 1947 until his death in 1984. The pageant’s winner was featured in public appearances during the fair and elsewhere throughout the year. The most famous Fairest of the Fair winner was La Jolla High School student Rachel Tajeda, fair winner in 1958. Tajeda became and actress and is better known as Rachel Welch. Additionally, the Twenty-Second District Agricultural Association sponsored this pageant. The prize for the winner of the first post-war competition was a $25 war bond. Over the years, the prize money rose up to over $20,000 in scholarships and prizes.
Summary of the Collection
The Pageants Collection consists of two boxes. The first box contains materials about the Miss Clairemont Pageant, including programs, newspaper clippings, schedules and scripts, photos of contestants from pageant ceremonies and other public appearances, VHS videos from the 1984 and 1994 ceremonies. The Collection also contains materials from the Fairest of the Fair contest, including programs from the years ranging 1978-2002, newspaper clippings, photos, and miscellaneous documents. Additionally, the Collection contains a few materials about additional local pageants including: Miss El Cajon Beauty Pageant, Miss Grater San Diego County, Miss San Diego Pageant, Miss San Diego County, Miss Poway Pageant, Miss Bonita Beauty Pageant, Miss Sierra Mesa, Miss Pacific Beach. The second box contains photo albums and loose photos from the Miss Clairemont Pageant.
Container List: Box and Folder Material
Series 1 Subject Files Miss Clairemont Pageant
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 1: Miss Clairemont Programs 1969, 1976-1984
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 2 Miss Clairemont Programs 1988-1993
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 3 Miss Clairemont Programs 1994-2003
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 4 Miss Clairemont Newspaper Clippings
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 5 Various Clairemont Newsletters
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 6 Miss Clairemont Flyers and Advertisements
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 7 Miss Clairemont Judges' Score Sheets
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 8 Miss Clairemont Schedules and Scripts
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 9 Miss Clairemont Pictures 1 of 3
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 10 Miss Clairemont Pictures 2 of 3
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 11 Miss Clairemont Pictures 3 of 3
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 12 Miss Clairemont Award Sashes
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 13 VHS Video: Miss Clairemont Pageant 1986
Series 1: Box 1: Folder 14 VHS Video: Miss Clairemont Pageant 1994
Series 2 Subject Files Fairest of the Fair (Del Mar)
Series 2: Box 1: Folder 15 Fairest of the Fair Programs 1978-1989
Series 2: Box 1: Folder 16 Fairest of the Fair Programs 1990-2002
Series 2: Box 1: Folder 17 Fairest of the Fair Newspaper Clippings 1 of 2
Series 2: Box 1: Folder 18 Fairest of the Fair Newspaper Clippings 2 of 2
Series 2: Box 1: Folder 19 Fairest of the Fair Entry Forms
Series 2: Box 1: Folder 20 Fairest of the Fair Pictures 1 of 2
Series 2: Box 1: Folder 21 Fairest of the Fair Pictures 2 of 2
Series 2: Box 1: Folder 22 Miscellaneous Fairest of the Fair
Series 3 Subject Files Various San Diego County Pageants
Series 3: Box 1: Folder: 23 Miss El Cajon Beauty Pageant 1987
Series 3: Box 1: Folder: 24 Miss Greater San Diego County Program 1989
Series 3: Box 1: Folder: 25 Miss San Diego Pageant 1978
Series 3: Box 1: Folder: 26 Miss San Diego County 1980
Series 3: Box 1: Folder: 27 Miss Poway Pageant 1989
Series 3: Box 1: Folder: 28 Miss Bonita Beauty Pageant 1987
Series 3: Box 1: Folder: 29 Miss Serra Mesa 1976
Series 3: Box 1: Folder: 30 Miss Pacific Beach 1979 & 1981
Series 4 Subject Files Miss Clairemont Photographs
Series 4: Box 2 Folder: 1 Miss Clairemont Photo Album 1967-1980
Series 4: Box 2 Folder: 2 Miss Clairemont Photo Album 1976-1985
Series 4: Box 2 Folder: 3 Miss Clairemont Photo Album 1989
Series 4: Box 2 Folder: 4 Miss Clairemont Photo Album 1993
Series 4: Box 2 Folder: 5 Loose - Miss Clairemont Photos
Scope and Contents of the Materials
Series 1: Box 1
Box 1 contains Miss Clairemont Pageant programs ranging from 1969, 1988-1993, and 1994-2003. The programs provide photos of the contestants, lists of sponsors, lists of judges, pageant committee, list of previous winners, the themes of each contest and thank you notes from previous winners.
Box 1 also contains local newspaper clippings and contest brochures, which provide information about enrollment requirements, contest dates, rewards, duties and responsibilities of the new Queen. Furthermore, this box includes photos and biographical information about Miss Clairemont and other local contestants who will take part in Fairest of the Fair competition. Included in the newspaper clippings are quotes from Ruth Johnson and Maureen Atwell, speaking about the Miss Clairemont Pageant and its role in the community.
Moreover, Box 1 contains numerous miscellaneous materials, including a letter from the Clairemont Town Council to Ruth Johnson; a letter from Ruth Johnson to the Community Business Owners, where she explains the importance of the pageant and asks for their support; a ticket to the 1974 pageant; an envelope with the name of the 2002 winner; judges score sheets, pageant scripts and schedules, and award sashes.
Series 2: Box 1
Series 2, which is also in Box 1 contains materials about the Fairest of the Fair contest, such as programs, brochures, and newspaper clippings. Among these documents is an article about four previous winners and their life after the pageant in the, “Fairest of the Fair-where are they now” article from Scene, June 24, 1983. The article provides information not only about the four queens, but also about the pageant’s history.
Series 2, which is also in Box 1 contains numerous miscellaneous documents, such as a ticket to the 1986 pageant; a thank you note from Fran Scarburough, the fairest of the Fair Director; Fairest of the Fair entry forms; a letter fromTwenty-Second District Agricultural Association to Ruth Johnson, in which they inform her that the 2004 Fairest of the Fair was chosen by the Twenty-Second DAA Board of Directors, what negates the need of pageant in 2004; an article about a controversial $500 donation for extra expenses to Danielle Bennett from National City. Series 2 of the Box 1 also contains photos from the Fairest of the Fair contest.
Series 3: Box 1
Additionally, Box 1 contains materials about a few other local beauty pageants, which includes programs from: Miss El Cajon Beauty Pageant 1987, Miss Grater San Diego County 1990, Miss San Diego Pageant 1978, Miss San Diego County 1980, Miss Poway Pageant 1989, Miss Bonita Beauty Pageant 1988, Miss Pacific Beach 1979 and 1981, and Miss Sierra Mesa 1976.
Series 4: Box 2
Box 2 consists of loose pictures from Miss Clairemont Pageant and photo albums with pictures and newspaper clippings from Miss Clairemont 1989, Miss Clairemont 1993, and from years ranging 1967-1980 and 1976-1985. This Box also contains a folder with judges’ questions for the contestants.