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MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


The first Miss America pageant -- swimsuit competition

The first Miss America pageant, 1921 -- swimsuit competition1

In 1921: From June 20-25, the annual conference of the American Library Association was held at the New Ocean House in Swampscott. 1,899 librarians from across the country attended, and the Board of Library Commissioners and members of its staff, along with officers and members of the Massachusetts Library Club, acted as hosts.2 "The opportunity given in 1921 to Massachusetts librarians does not come frequently. It is for us to prove that we are not so cold-hearted as pictured, and that we can offset the frigidity of the north shore by the warmth of our reception."3

To date, the ALA has held annual conferences in Massachusetts only four times in its history:

  • 1879, Boston
  • 1902, Boston and Magnolia
  • 1921, Swampscott
  • 1941, Boston

There have been two ALA Midwinter conferences in Boston, in 2005 and 2010.4

What else happened in 1921?

  • The first Miss America pageant was held in Atlantic City.5
  • Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted of robbery and murder in Dedham on July 14 after a trial lasting nearly 7 weeks.6
  • Adolf Hitler became leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party and formed the Sturmabteilung or SA (the "Brown Shirts").7

1. [link]
2. Annual Report of the Board of Free Public Library Commissioners for the Year Ending November 30, 1921.
3. Massachusetts Library Club Bulletin, Volumes 7-12. [link].
4. [link].
5. [link].
6. [link].
7. [link].