Maud Coleman Woods
She was selected by readers of the New York World newspaper as "most representatively beautiful woman in America" and, as a result, was also selected by the Pan-American Company to represent North America on the 1901 Exposition logo. Lockport, NY artist Raphael Beck's design was employed on official publications and countless souvenirs.
Twenty-three years old in 1901, Maud Coleman Woods was a Charlottesville, Virginia native, daughter of attorney Micajah Woods. She had attended the Virigina Female Institution with interests in music and culture. In 1898, she was chosen to be photographed as on of the "Rosebud Garden of Girls" at the reunion of Southern veterans. A New York photographer Alexander Black saw her photo and came to her home on High Street in Charlottesville to photograph her. She granted permission for photos so long as her name would not be used.
Alexander Black published a book in 1899 entitled, "Miss America, Pen and Camera Sketches of the American Girl." Without Miss Woods knowledge, he used her photo on the cover and used two other images in the book. The family accpeted this without complaint because her name was not used. (The images are below.)
But Black also submitted her photo in a contest for the most representative beauty to serve as the model for North America on Raphael Beck's Pan-American design. When she won, her identity was revealed and her photo published nationwide, something no lady wanted.
She received letters, telegrams, requests for interviews and photographs, all of which she declined. She fled Charlottesville to the family's country home in Hanover County in the summer of 1901. Sadly, she contracted typhoid fever and died less than a week later, on August 25, the night before her 24th birthday.
Her obituary described her as having "brown hair, deep blue eyes and fair skin, with delicate roses in her cheeks. She was of medium height, rather slender, and her every movement was full of grace."
With grateful thanks to Ken Bartkowski who generously sent me a copy of "Miss America," and
to the Preservation Piedmont organization which contacted me in 2002
about a story they were doing on the Maplewood Cemetery in Charlottesville
where Miss Woods is buried .
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