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National Museum of American History shows “Women on Money”

April 28, 2016 – The newest addition to the National Museum of American History’s “Stories on Money” gallery opened March 18, 2016, in conjunction with Women’s History Month. “Women on Money” focuses on the vital contributions of women to national and world history with more than 50 examples of currency featuring women. The display will be on view indefinitely.

Irene, Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Solidus, Constantinople, 797-802. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Irene, Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Solidus, Constantinople, 797-802. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

“Women on Money” includes women depicted on international and American money, as well as female figures representing national ideals and ideas. The display was inspired by the recent U.S. Treasury announcement that the agency plans to redesign the 10 dollar note to depict a historic woman. 

Kate Sheppard, Suffragette. Ten dollar note, New Zealand, 2013. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Kate Sheppard, Suffragette. Ten dollar note, New Zealand, 2013. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

“The U.S. Department of Treasury’s planned redesign of the 10 dollar note to include a woman will mark the first major change to the appearance of American paper money since the late 1920s,” said Ellen Feingold, curator of the museum’s National Numismatic Collection. “This is an opportunity for Americans to think about the many roles that women have played in the making of our nation.” 

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Half pound coin, England, about 1567-70. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Half pound coin, England, about 1567-70. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Women have appeared on money for more than 2,000 years; governments worldwide have used coins and notes to commemorate the achievements of women in politics, social movements and the arts and sciences, and to convey national ideals.


Martha Washington, First Lady of the United States of America. 1 dollar silver certificate, United States of America, 1886. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Martha Washington, First Lady of the United States of America. 1 dollar silver certificate, United States of America, 1886. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Visitors will learn that although Lady Liberty has frequently appeared on American money, very few historic women have, among them Martha Washington, Pocahontas, Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea.

Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India. Five rupee coin, India, About 1985. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India. Five rupee coin, India, About 1985. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

“Women on Money” includes coins from ancient empires, banknotes from America’s early days and modern money from around the globe; women depicted on money range from Cleopatra VII, pharaoh of Egypt, to Indira Gandhi, a prime minister of India.

Check signed by Susan B. Anthony, National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1896. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Check signed by Susan B. Anthony, National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1896. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Other highlights of the exhibition include a 1896 check signed by Susan B. Anthony who belonged to the National American Woman Suffrage Association. 

5 franc note, Algeria (under French rule), about 1941. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

5 franc note, Algeria (under French rule), about 1941. Photo: Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

The “Stories on Money” gallery also features “America’s Money,” which examines how money changed from colonial days to the present and explores the renaissance of American coinage.

The National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W. Admission is free. 

For visiting the website of the National Museum of American History, please click here.

A lot of pictures and facts on the exhibition are available in the blog of museum curator Ellen Feingold.

And more interesting topics are gathered in the museum’s blog on Women’s History.

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