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National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer

4

Joan Stanbury standing between two tethered bulls, possibly at an agricultural show.

AR00085.015

Object information

What

Type

Collection

Dimensions

L 165mm x W 218mm

Material

Physical Description

Black and white photograph of Joan Stanbury standing between two tethered bulls, possibly at an agricultural show.

Statement of Significance

The Joan Stanbury collection comprises six objects associated with her participation in the Miss Australia Quest 1959 and the inaugural International Beauty Congress (Miss International) 1960. Items include a Miss Western Australia 1959 trophy; a Miss Australia 1959 trophy; a photographic Presentation Book and book of Notes on Western Australia; a wall plaque and key to the City of Bellflower in Los Angeles, California. The collection is supported by twenty-five paper-based items - photographs and ephemera documenting Joan Stanbury's experience as participant, eventual winner, and ambassadress for the Miss Australia Quest and her country.

The Miss Australia Quest (from 1992 known as the Miss Australia Awards) ran continuously from 1953 to 2000 and was arguably the longest running, most popular and most successful charitable enterprise in Australia's history. The first documented nationwide contest to identify Australia's ideal woman was held in 1907, however the first official use of the title 'Miss Australia' is more generally thought to have been used in relation to 'Miss Australia 1926' - Beryl Mills from Western Australia. Further contests were held in 1927, 1937, and from 1945 until 1950. It was in 1953 when Bernard Dowd (manufacturer of Hickory USA lingerie in Australia) and his company Dowd Associates took over running of the competition that the Quest became a registered business enterprise, and the 'search for Miss Australia' gained momentum. From 1954 until 2000 the Quest ran primarily as a fundraising event for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association (ACPA) and is estimated to have raised over $90 million for people with cerebral palsy. Over its lifetime, the competition reflected many of the changes that took place in Australian society and culture: the changing role and perceptions of women; changing perceptions of people with disabilities; the influence of migrants and 'New Australians'; and the presentation of Australia and Australians overseas.

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