31st Scripps National Spelling Bee

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31st Scripps National Spelling Bee
Sheraton Park Hotel, site of the 31st Scripps National Spelling Bee
Date June 11-12, 1958
Location Sheraton Park Hotel ballroom, Washington, D.C.[1]
Winner Jolitta Schlehuber
Age 14
Residence McPherson, Kansas
Sponsor Topeka Daily Capital
Sponsor location Topeka, Kansas
Winning word syllepsis
No. of contestants 68[2]
Pronouncer Benson S. Alleman
Preceded by 30th Scripps National Spelling Bee
Followed by 32nd Scripps National Spelling Bee

The 31st Scripps National Spelling Bee was held in Washington, District of Columbia on June 11-12, 1958, by the E.W. Scripps Company.[3]

The winner was 14-year-old eighth-grader Jolitta Schlehuber of McPherson, Kansas, sponsored by the Topeka Daily Capital. She correctly spelled the word syllepsis. She had placed fourth the prior year, and was the first winner from Kansas. Second place went to Terry Madeira of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, who misspelled propylaeum.[4][5] A talent scout for The $64,000 Question game show in the audience invited Schlehuber to appear on that show, where she won $8000, which she used to pay college tuition.[5][6][7]

After the last year's bee had taken almost 10 hours, this was the first time the bee was put on a two-day program. There were 68 contestants this year, 27 boys and 41 girls.[8] Forty-eight spellers were eliminated in eleven rounds in the first day of competition on Wednesday, June 11, leaving 12 girls and 8 boys for the second and final day of competition.[2] Benson S. Alleman was pronouncer.[9]

The top prize was $1,000, with $500 for second, $250 for third, $100 for the next five, $50 for the next ten, and $25 each for the rest.[9]


  1. ^ (12 June 1958). The Winner, Lubbock Evening Journal ("in the second day of the contest in the Sheraton-Park Hotel ballroom")
  2. ^ a b Twenty Remain Undefeated in Bee, Gettysburg Times (Associated Press)
  3. ^ (5 January 1958). Plans made for 1985 SENC Spelling Bee, Star-News
  4. ^ (12 June 1958). Kansas Girl Top Speller, Times-News (Hendersonville, North Carolina)
  5. ^ a b Watson, J.L. (29 March 1998). Bee spelled victory for local resident, Lawrence Journal-World
  6. ^ (19 June 1958). New National Spelling Champ Studies in Small Rural School, Nunda News (Nunda, New York), p. 7.
  7. ^ (29 March 1988). Bee Spelled Victory for Local Resident, Lawrence Journal-World
  8. ^ Robinson, Linda (9 January 1969). City Math Teacher Here Today, But Where Tomorrow, Lawrence Journal-World
  9. ^ a b (12 June 1958). 20 Spelling Experts Now In Final Stretch, Sarasota Journal (UPI)