There She Is, Miss Wheelchair America…

Thanks to the hard work of one of our many amazing volunteers, we have a unique new collection on Ohio Memory that we’re excited to share with you!

The Miss Wheelchair America Collection highlights materials that document the early years of the “Miss Wheelchair America” pageant held in Columbus, Ohio. In 1972, Columbus physician Dr. Philip K. Wood introduced a statewide competition with the goal of achieving “full acceptance and participation of the disabled in all areas of society” through the efforts of a wheelchair-bound spokeswoman. The pageant has since grown to become an annual nationwide event with programs in more than 30 states. Each year, individual state title-holders compete for the title, now known as “Ms. Wheelchair America,” and a year-long reign as an advocate for people with disabilities across the nation. Winners are selected based on a combination of demonstrated advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation.

This collection of more than 60 items follows the competition from 1972 until the mid-1980s, and includes candid and official photographs, pageant brochures and programs, contestant resumes, and correspondence related to the competition. There’s even a letter from Bob Hope, who served as the National Honorary Chairman of the 1977 pageant. And while Buckeye fans may be used to seeing the Ohio State marching band form the traditional “Script Ohio” on the football field, one great image from the collection shows members of the university’s marching band forming a field-sized International Symbol of Access in honor of the pageant during the 1975 OSU v. North Carolina game. What a great way to welcome the contestants to our state!


To see these images and more, view the collection online here, and let us know what you think!


For more information on the Ms. Wheelchair America organization and its pageant, visit

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