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Exhibition Not an Ostrich: & Other Images from America's Library

"Miss America receives a permanent wave." Quaker Photo Service (Philadelphia), October 14, 1926. Prints and Photographs Division

UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Miss America gets a permanent wave. 1926

Smallwood, a Cherokee hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the first woman of American Indian descent to win the Miss America pageant title (1926). Here she is seated with hair attached to electric permanent wave equipment. The fashion for bobbed hair in the 1920s greatly increased the popularity of the torturous twelve-hour procedure invented in Germany around 1905. Requiring the direct application of heat, the result was sometimes a frizzy disaster.