Maude Coleman Woods

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Pan-American Expo logo; North America was modeled after Maude
Miss America: Pen and camera sketches of the American girl (1895)

Maud Coleman Woods (August 23, 1877- August 24, 1901, aged 24) was a Charlottesville native who was voted the "most representatively beautiful woman in America" in 1901. As a result, many consider her to be the first Miss America.[1]

Miss Woods was the daughter of Capt. Micajah Woods, who was well know in local politics and as a lawyer and Matilda Minor Morris Woods. They lived on High Street. Her education was received at the Virginia Female Institute, at Staunton, “under the tuition of Mrs. J. E. B. Stuart, whose distinguished husband was a kinsman of hers on both sides of her house.” Interest in music and culture, Miss Woods took the only gold medal awarded at the Virginia Female Institute the year she graduated.

Miss Woods is related to many of the leading families of Virginia and of the South and West. Her mother was Matilda Minor Morris, a nice of CSA Lt. Col. Lewis Minor Coleman, who resigned his professorship at the University of Virginia to enter the Confederate Army and fell at the head of his battalion of artillery at the battle of Fredericksburg.

In 1898, at the Confederate Veteran Reunion in Atlanta, Miss Woods was selected from a crowd of one thousand visiting girls to be the sponsor for the Army of the Northern Virginia. Considered, “one of the most coveted honors that could be bestowed on a Southern girl.”

When she was 20 years old, her father gave his permission for Maude to be photographed for a pamphlet called "The Rosebud Garden of Girls" being produced for a reunion of Confederate generals. A New York photographer saw her image and came to Charlottesville to photograph her. Without her consent or knowledge, he submitted her photos to a contest, the winner of which would serve as the model for North America on the logo for the 1901 World's Fair (or Pan-American Exposition). Her picture won the contest and she was named "America's Most Beautiful Blonde."

A friend of Miss Woods told the Daily Progress at the time of her death “since she was selected to represent North America on the medallion she had been deluged with requests from people in all parts of the world asking for her photograph or her autograph." To escape notoriety, with her mother and sisters she spent the summer at the old home of her mother's family "Claremont," her uncle's estate on the James River. It was there that she contracted typhoid and within a few days, on the night of her 24th birthday, she died. Miss Woods was laid to rest at Maplewood Cemetery in the Woods family section.

Song: Go, Lovely Rose

Inscription on her headstone includes the last two verses of the song Go, Lovely Rose by Edmund Waller (1606–1687)

Go, lovely rose!
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.
Tell her that’s young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hadst thou sprung
In deserts, where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.
Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired;
Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.
Then die! that she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!


  1. Web. Maude Coleman Woods, Susan J. Eck, "Doing the Pan", September 2001, retrieved 25 July 2012.

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