Miss Mississippi 1933 Dorothy Eley - semi-finalist

Dorothy Eley had the distinction of being the oldest 1933 Miss America contestant at age 24, two months older than Miss Kansas Pauline Sayre, as well as the only college graduate! The first ever Miss Mississippi, Dorothy enjoyed the state pageants but hated the national Pageant, likening it to a cattle auction. Constantly wearing a bathing suit, even to breakfast, made her feel on exhibit. She found the festivity confusing, and the judging rigged. Just as the Miss America Organization wanted to distance itself from the 1933 Pageant, so did Dorothy.


1930 Eley family census form - Moss Point, MS

"Our Very First Miss Mississippi" from 1991 Mississippi Magazine - click here for full article

"Our Very First Miss Mississippi" from 1991 Mississippi Magazine - click here for full article
1930 census data, Moss Point, Mississippi
Carl Eley 53 (MS) medical doctor
Clara 49 (MS), Mary E. 22 (MS), Dorothy 20 (AL), Clara 18 (AL), Robert C. 16 (MS), Virginia 13 (MS), Mary Thompson 48 (MS)(lodger) public school teacher.
Dorothy Eley was born April 5, 1909 in Alabama.

Dorothy from the panorama shot - age 24
No specific mention is made of Dorothy in the Atlantic City newspapers.

The St. Louis August 11th newspaper states: Miss Mississippi. Miss Dorothy Eley, 23-year-old brunette, who was selected as the most beautiful girl in Mississippi, in the beauty contest held at Biloxi a few days ago.

The September/October 1991 magazine (at right) of Mississippi published the panorama picture plus several more in their article: "Our Very First Miss Mississippi."
         "With the Miss America Pageant upon us, we honor Dorothy Eley Jané of Moss Point, who started a grand tradition among young Mississippians. At age 23, schoolteacher Dorothy Eley won the title of Miss Mississippi from among 19 other contestants. Later, she represented the state in Atlantic City (below). She is pictured fifth from left. [note: it is the same official panorama picture.] ...
         Later, in Atlantic City, from the moment that she and her cousin Mildred, who was serving as chaperone, stepped off the train and landed slap-dab in the middle of the confused festivity, Dorothy Eley felt a queasy uneasiness about the whole thing known as the Miss America Pageant. She didn't like it a bit. At first she didn't know why. She hadn't reacted that way to the contest in Biloxi. She had, in fact, rather enjoyed it. And certainly she had enjoyed the train trip to Atlantic City. She and her cousin had been accompanied as far as Washington, D.C., by Mississippi Congressman William Colmer, who was returning to his duties in the United States House of Representatives. And Dorothy had enjoyed their stopover in the capital, touring the city by streetcar and going to Griffith Stadium for a big-league baseball game where they introduced her, and she stood up and everybody clapped for the first Miss Mississippi.
         But being in the Miss America Pageant, being up there on display, being put on exhibit for the purpose of being looked at, it was like.... "I'll tell you what it was like," says Mrs. Jané. "It was like a cattle auction. All we did, day in and day out, was prance around in bathing suits. Why, we even wore them to breakfast! I had to go out and buy two new ones because the ones I had got so dirty. Filthy! I already had new shoes, which was a bad mistake because before long I'd walked so much my feet were killing me, and that sure didn't help my disposition. ...
         Miss Mississippi 1933 could not have known it, of course, but her year was scarcely the most propitious for Miss America hopefuls. The pageant had just been resurrected after five years of dormancy, and promoters of the National Beauty Tournament, as it was then called, could hardly be seated at the same luncheon table without snarling at each other like back-alley curs. Charges flew forth that the judging was rigged. And counter charges. And when at last the crown was settled onto the blonde curls of Miss Connecticut, most everyone within the realm of pageantdom figured that the entire affair would best be forgotten. Forgotten it was. It was two years before another contest was held. And then, the official pageant position regarding the 1933 contest was simply that it never happened. Only 20 years later would the Miss America hierarchy have digested its humble pie enough to recognize that year of infamy as being just another link in tradition's illustrious past. ... [click here for full article]

Misses Maine, Connecticut, Mississippi, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky at the Miss America judging

1962 - from left: Miss Mississippi 1959 Lynda Lee Mead; Miss Mississippi 1933 Dorothy Eley Jané; and daughter Olivia Jané. With thanks to son Skip Jané.
Upon her return home, Dorothy married Buenaventura Jané (pronounced jon AY') in 1933. In 1940 the Janes lived in Mobile, Alabama with their newborn son where her husband was chief clerk of the War Department. Later "Bon" was an attaché in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps, and they retired to Hawaii for many years before returning to Pascagoula in the early 1970's. They had a son and a daughter. Bon predeceased Dorothy by two and a half years.

Dorothy died in Moss Point on April 2, 2005, just three days shy of her 96th birthday.
Social Security Death Index: DOROTHY E JANE, date of birth: 05 Apr 1909, date of death: 02 Apr 2005 (V), last residence: 39562 (Moss Point, Jackson, MS), place of last benefit: (none specified), social security number: 425-68-2374, place issued: Mississippi

Obituary notice: Mrs. Dorothy Eley Jane', 95, of Moss Point, died April 2, 2005. Services at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 7, First Baptist Church, Moss Point. Visitation 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, Holder-Wells Funeral Home.

Obituary notice: Jane, Dorothy Eley Dorothy Eley Jane died in Pascagoula, Miss., on Saturday, April 2, 2005, three days short of her 96th birthday. A retired educator, she taught many subjects, primarily English and music, in and around the Pascagoula/Moss Point, Miss., area. Mrs. Jane was a graduate of Judson College in Alabama and did graduate work at Duke University. She also served as principal of the Lyons Separate School District near Fountainbleau, Miss., and as a social advisor at Mississippi University for Women. She was the first Miss Mississippi, in 1933. Mrs. Jane played in many duplicate bridge tournaments and was a senior master. She was a faithful member of the church and sang in the choir for many years. Mrs. Jane worked for the government in Mobile, Ala., and as a plane spotter during World War II, for which she received a citation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mrs. Jane is survived by her son, B.J. Jane Jr. of Moss Point; daughter and son-in-law, Olivia Jane Whitten and Jim Whitten of Baton Rouge; grandchildren, James H. Whitten of McKinney, Texas, and Elizabeth W. Allison of Houma; great-grandchildren, Kailee, Jamie and Sarah Whitten, all of McKinney, and Alexander Allison of Houma; a dear brother-in-law, John W. Thompson of Kingsport, Tenn.; and sisters-in-law, Frances Jane Cudabac Johnson and Edith Jane Seaman, both of Pascagoula, and Sally Jane Birdsong of Covington; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Robert Carl Eley Sr. and Clara Olivia Delashmet Eley; husband, B.J. Jane; sisters, Mary Elizabeth Eley Flinn, Chrissie Eley McLeod and Virginia Eley Thompson; and brother, Robert Carl Eley Jr. Visitation will be Wednesday, April 6, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Holder-Wells Funeral Home, Moss Point. Funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at First Baptist Church, Moss Point, with the Rev. Michael Perry officiating. Interment in Griffin Cemetery, Moss Point. Pallbearers will be Billy Broome, Albert Jernigan, Johnny Jones, Gary Krebs, Ferdie Walker and Donnie Waller. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Moss Point City Library.

----------------
Social Security Death Index: JANE, BUENAVENTURA J. 29 Oct 1909 28 Dec 2002 (V) 93 39567 (Pascagoula, Jackson, MS) (none specified) New York 050-32-8334
I sent a copy of memorabilia (newspaper clipping, 1991 Mississippi magazine article, pictures) to Sherry Owens at the Pascagoula Public Library in Pascagoula, MS in Sep 2004. She works in the Genealogy Dept (228-769-3078), and confirmed that the Moss Point Eley was the family I was seeking. I wrote the Jané family in Moss point, MS in September 2004, just six months before Dorothy's death; son B.J. contacted me by email and phone in 2011, and sent more memorabilia, specifically the rest of the artricle and the delightful 1962 picture. Thanks Skip! :)
*September/October 1991, pp. 30-31 "Mississippi" -- article received from Miss Virginia Evangeline Glidewell's family. Thank you to the Glidewell descendants for sending me the first two pages of this fascinating article.