5 Dazzling Facts About Prom


What was your high school prom like? For many, it was a magical, memorable experience. For others, they would have rather watched paint dry than be part of such an extravagant production! Either way, you never know when you might need some prom trivia! So what are the origins of prom? Why is there a prom King and Queen?

Here are 5 prom facts to worth toasting to:

    1. The first ever recorded reference to a prom was found in the 1894 journal of a male Amherst College student. (source) He recounts an invitation and special trip to the neighboring all-female Smith College for a formal dance.
    1. Prom “competition” began ramping up in the 50s – leading up to it, some young women wrote letters to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt for help purchasing prom dresses during the Great Depression. (source) Following the Great Depression, America’s postwar prosperity fueled a prom fashion frenzy. In fact, some principals actually canceled proms to avoid “psychologically wounding” students who could not afford to attend.
    1. Racial segregation of prom was still occurring until recently. (source) It was not until 2013 that Wilcox County High School in Abbeville, Georgia held its first integrated prom. In the famous case of Mississippi’s Charleston High School, white parents organized invite-only proms for white students in 1970, the year that black students began attending. In 1997, Morgan Freeman offered to pay for the school’s prom if it agreed to have it integrated. The school refused and continued holding segregated proms until 2008. You can learn more by watching the Prom Night in Mississippi documentary.
    1. President Gerald Ford’s daughter, Susan, convinced her father to hold her 1975 prom at the White House! (source) Prom had another presidential “run-in” with John F. Kennedy. The 1973 senior class at Borroughs High School booked the ballroom at Beverly Hilton Hotel for prom. JFK requested the same room to hold a fundraiser and the venue canceled the reservation for prom in favor of the president. JFK caught wind of this conflict and let the high school hold their prom in the ballroom, choosing to hold his fundraiser in some smaller hotel rooms instead.
    1. The word “prom” comes from the French word “promenade”. (source) Dating back to the 16th century, a promenade is a walk or a stroll, or a location that is suitable for public strolling like a ship deck or park. Another definition is “a stroll or walk, especially in a public place, as for pleasure or display”. Proms have certainly become a form of parading one’s fancy ensemble!


Featured image photo credit: Roman Boed. Originally found on Pxhere.com. Image was resized and cropped. Creative Commons 2.0.

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