Homecoming has a history that dates from the mid-19th century. In America, several colleges and universities say they had the very first “Homecoming” as we know it today.
Baylor University in Waco Tex. is one of these. A number of members of the alumni received notes from professors in the fall of 1909 asking graduates to “renew former associations and friendships, and catch the Baylor spirit again.” The not also said the event was not designed to raise money. The event included a concert, a reception and dance, class reunions and parade followed by a football game. The next homecoming at Baylor didn’t take place until 1915.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign first held a Homecoming event in 1910. The event has been held each year with the exception of 1918.
Another school with a storied homecoming tradition is the university of Missouri-Columbia. The rivalry with the KU Jayhawks took place on the football field for the first time in 1891. In 1911, MU Athletic Director Chester Brewer though alumni should come for the game. In 1911, the Homecoming tradition in Columbia began with a large rally, a parade and a football game that drew 9,000 fans.
At Joplin Junior College, the first events associated with what would become homecoming began with the crowning of a “Pigskin Princess.” In the fall of 1940, the football squad selected Victoria Evans of Carthage for this honor. Around this time Homecoming festivities began but the merging of the football queen ceremonies with Homecoming activities had to await the post-World War II era and the organizing of a formal alumni association. The 1946 queen, Mary Alice Dabbs, was identified simply as “Football Queen.”
The first official Homecoming Queen was Kathleen Cearnal of Joplin in 1947.
Renner, G.K. In Pursuit of Excellence: Missouri Southern State College, 1937-1992. Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company, 1993. p. 35 & p. 44