Janesville's Beauty Contest Winner in 1921

"The Big Winners in the $20,200 Beauty Contest"

--The Chicago Tribune, June 5, 1921, B6.

A patron asked for help finding information about Marie Scarcliff, of Janesville, who won a beauty contest in 1921. The contest was sponsored by The Chicago Tribune. Marie went on to compete in the Mid-western states contest, but lost out to Miss Indiana, who won the $10,000.00 grand prize - worth about $120,000.00 today.

Librarians searched the online NewspaperArchive, available on our Research Databases web page, and found several articles from The Janesville Gazette in 1921. This database is invaluable when seeking older articles from the Janesville newspapers. While the library has microfilm of every issue since the 1800's, there is no published index. Unless you have a date or at least month and year, it can be daunting.

NewspaperArchive provides an index. However, not every article from every issue is included online.

An article from Monday, June 6, 1921, explained that a 'new and beautiful picture of Miss Scarcliff was published in the Tribune....Sunday, along with photos of the other five prize-winners. Miss Scarcliff was awarded the ...prize for Wisconsin several weeks ago'.

Another HPL librarian found the citation to the article online, and we requested a copy through InterLibrary Loan, a free service to Arrowhead Library System patrons. We received the Chicago Tribune microfilm from 1921, and with our digital reader, scanned and uploaded the photos here:

"Miss Marie Scarcliff, 164 South Franklin street, Janesville, Wis. Home Girl, 21 - Awarded the $1,000 prize for Wisconsin."

(equal to $12,000.00 today)

(click photo to enlarge)

Miss Hackett, of Indiana, is in the top left photo (profile) below. Marie is in the group photo across the top of the page below, (first girl on the left), with her portrait below that.

Here's the second page of the article:

(click photo to enlarge)

And, a later Gazette article dated July 2, 1921, revealed that "Marie Scarcliff Has Thrilling Hour With Auto Bandits". While traveling with friends in Kansas City, MO, she had a "thrilling experience with hold-ups.....who stopped the car, a Marmon sudan, and stripped it of tires, search-light, glass wings and other equipment."

We learned Marie survived this and lived a long life. Our patron's uncle was the photographer who took Marie's picture. We found his name in our online city directory for 1921: "James McCartney, photographer", located on Milwaukee Street.
This morning our patron came in and explained that she met Marie in Hartford, Wisconsin, in the late 1970's and visited about her experiences. The patron brought in a large, framed portrait she found in her mother's home - of Marie, taken by Mr. McCartney. Our graphic artist took a photo of the framed print - isn't it lovely!
You can see 'McCartney' in the lower right corner.

Another example of how the more we learn, the more we add to Janesville and Rock County's history - @ your library!
Keep your library's Reference librarians in mind for help with your local history questions!

--posted 12/17/2010 by sb