The Special Collections and Archives Department, located on the Ground Floor of the Ralph Brown Draughon Library, has recently mounted an exhibit on the Alabama Maid of Cotton contest, at one time sponsored by the Alabama Cotton Manufacturers' Association and later by the Alabama Farm Bureau Federation. The contest was designed to promote the use of cotton in clothing and other products. The exhibit, located in the three large glass cases immediately on one's left upon entering the Special Collections and Archives Department, features numerous photographs, pamphlets, promotional materials, and informational captions.
In 1947 Alabama named its first Maid of Cotton, who went on the the national contest. All of the major cotton-producing states participated. At one time, Memphis, Tennessee hosted the national contest, which later moved to Dallas, Texas.
Special Collections and Archives houses the historical records of the Cotton Manufacturers' Association and the Farm Bureau Federation, which are employed in the display. Also used in the display are the personal papers of Mamie Hardy, an Auburn graduate and in 1953 the Dale County, Alabama Maid of Cotton. Ms. Hardy later worked with the national Maid of Cotton contest.
The records of the Cotton Manufacturers' Association and the Farm Bureau Federation also document a variety of other activities, including the political interests of these commodity groups. In addition to her work with the Maid of Cotton contest, Ms. Hardy's papers document her career in home economics education with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Texas.