Over the course of my archival research, I became very interested in the three Miss Americas from Oklahoma City University—Jane Jayroe, Miss America 1967; Susan Powell, Miss America 1981; and Shawntel Smith, Miss America 1996. As I began searching through the archives for everything I could find out about these three women, I found that there was not as much information as one would assume on OCU’s Miss Americas. However, what I found most interesting was what I found in OCU’s 1967, 1981, and 1996 yearbooks. I loved being able to compare each of the pageant winner’s homecomings, as well as see what they were involved in on campus. For example, Jane Jayroe was an active member of the Panhellenic sorority Alpha Chi Omega, and there was a photo of her sorority sisters watching her being crowned on Television in 1967.
For this project, I tried to find pins that were all very closely related in a sense that one could find points of comparison between any two, even though all of my photos were from different decades. The first three photos I chose, for instance, were from the yearbooks I mentioned above—the yearbooks from each year a Miss America was crowned from OCU. I focused on Jayroe’s, Powell’s, and Smith’s homecomings. My next pin, found in the archives, was a photo of the corner of 23rd and Blackwelder from the 1950s. This corner, now an OCU landmark and the home of our Miss America Fountain, was then just an open field. I chose this picture, one, because it’s a really interesting historical shot, and two, because I think it’s a great representation of how our University has grown not only on campus, but also in prestige in the past 50 years. My final pin was a photo I took recently of the Miss America Fountain, a tribute to those three important women.
This project has instilled so much pride in my university, and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to participate in this. My interest in the history of Oklahoma City University has increased immensely, and my appreciation for knowing about my university has grown as well. If this project has done anything for me, it has made the importance of our archives much more evident. I love that this project may be ongoing so that new traditions and remarkable events at our university may be displayed for the public, and I hope that future students learn to appreciate Oklahoma City University’s history as much as I did.