This is the third oldest American pageant in operation, after Miss America and Miss U.S.A.. A scholarship pageant for high school seniors, it has been held annually since 1958. The national finals are in Mobile, Alabama. Categories include scholastic achievement, talent and fitness, but no swimsuit competition.
In 1958 it began as "Junior Miss America Pageant", then in 1959 was "America's Junior Miss" for the next 30 years. In 1989 it was re-named "America's Young Woman of the Year" because the emphasis was on scholarship, talent and achievement. In 1994 it went back to "America's Junior Miss" for marketing and promotional purposes, as well as general recognition. However, in 2010 it was changed to "Distinguished Young Women," to differentiate it from pageants.
The 50 states competed annually. District of Columbia participated from 1960 to 1962 and again from 1981 to 1987, as did Puerto Rico. District of Columbia returned in 2017 - and won the event.