Today in NC State History: A different sort of beauty contest

January 25, 2013
By Bill Krueger

blog_series6It looked like an announcement for a beauty contest — readers of The Technician were invited to select “the most beautiful Raleigh girl” and “most handsome State College student” — but the contest was apparently a way for the student newspaper to sell papers.

The contest got underway on this day in 1924. The rules, announced in an earlier issue of the paper, went like this: For the next month two coupons would appear in each copy of the paper. Readers could fill out the coupons — one was marked for male entries and one for female — to vote for whomever they pleased. Each coupon was worth 10 votes.

techniciancontestBut participants could also buy votes. A $2 annual subscription to The Technician would give the new subscriber a coupon worth 100 votes. (For context on the value of $2, the contest was announced opposite an ad from Belk’s for “College Men’s Hats” that started at $1.95.) And readers could buy extra copies of The Technician for 10 cents a copy to get more coupons, allowing them to cast more votes for the guy or gal of their choice.

As the contest went on, the paper printed the number of votes for each contestant. “If some other fellow’s girl gets ahead, it just shows that fellow is working harder…Do not stop sending in the votes,” the paper said.

On April 4, the winner was announced. Beating out a slew of contestants from St. Mary’s, Peace and Meredith was Miss Emily Jones, who worked at the State College post office. Miss Jones was described as “an attractive little blonde’’ with eyes that were “ocean-blue wells of sympathy and understanding.’’ She was “a little girl who has smiled her way into the hearts of every State College man through the bars of the General Delivery Window down at the State College P.O.,’’ and always had encouraging words to students who didn’t get the mail they were looking for.

Votes came in not just from students, the paper said, but also from alumni, giving Jones more than 14,000 votes (the runner-up only got 2,230). A shorter story mentioned the most handsome student, C.E. Vick, and said he had been “beset with offers to appear in ads for facial beautifiers.”

The stories didn’t say how many subscriptions or additional single copies the paper sold. But it looks like the additional revenue may have been needed — an ad in the April 4 issue opposite the contest announcement implored subscribers to pay their bills: “The printer must be paid. A little cooperation is all we ask.”

Today the Technician is distributed free and is supported by advertising revenue and student fees.

—Sylvia Adcock ’81

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