Arkansas' 1st Miss America: Selections from the Donna Axum Papers
This exhibit created by staff in the Special Collections celebrates one of the Department's notable recent acquisitions, the Donna Axum papers. The exhibit presents photographs and artifacts from Donna Axum Whitworth's time as a student at the University of Arkansas and as Miss Arkansas and Miss America.
Items in the exhibit include an album featuring Axum as a member of “The Uarkettes” performing group, the shoes and earrings she wore for the Miss American pageant, and the crown and statuette she received upon becoming Miss Arkansas. Other materials illustrate her duties as Miss America such as Pepsi machine-shaped radio she received while serving as a Pepsi spokesperson, and her prominence as a celebrated citizen of the state, including a silver platter given to her as a “distinguished Arkansans” by the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce.
Donna Axum was born in 1942 in El Dorado (Union County), Arkansas. She became Miss America in 1964 as Miss Arkansas while a senior at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She earned her Bachelor's (1966) and Master of Arts (1969) degrees in speech and drama, radio, television and film from the University of Arkansas.
Since her time as a student, Donna Axum Whitworth has been a prolific and important alumni supporter of the University of Arkansas. She served on the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century Steering Committee and as chair of the Arkansas Alumni Association Committee. She was on the executive committee for the Campaign to Restore Old Main and the committee for the Campaign for Books. She is a Charter and Gold member of the Chancellor's Society and the National Development Council. She served on the Arkansas Alumni Association Board of Directors for seven years and is a life member. She was the recipient of the Citation of Distinguished Alumni Award in 1988 and was named as one of the Top 100 Tri Deltas in the First 100 Years by the national organization.
Mrs. Whitworth donated her collection to Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Libraries in 2009. In the coming years, her collection will offer researchers a look into the fascinating life and career of one of the University's most renowned graduates