Brother, can you spare a quarter?

From the U.S. Mint:

“Launched in 1999, the United States Mint’s 50 State Quarters Program was a 10-year initiative that honored each of the nation’s states in the order that they ratified the Constitution or were admitted into the Union. Each quarter was produced for about 10 weeks and will never be produced again. State designs are displayed on the reverse (tails) of the quarters, while the obverse design displays the familiar image of George Washington.”

4statequartersSo what’s the problem? Each state got their own quarter, as did the District of Columbia and each of the five U.S. Territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa), for a total of 56 beautiful brand new quarters, celebrating the history and grandeur of the United States.

It’s not the fact that the states got the quarters that’s a problem. It’s what they collectively chose to put on the quarters that’s a problem. Many states chose to illustrate America’s noteworthy topological features such as the Great Lakes (Michigan), the Rocky Mountains (Colorado) and the 10,000 lakes (Minnesota). Some states chose to honor significant historical events such as the Louisiana Purchase (Louisiana) or the journey westward by wagon train (Nebraska). Animals were a popular choice: Alaska appropriately chose the bear, Washington State the salmon, and Oklahoma their state bird, the scissortail flycatcher. The quarters are all unique and beautiful.

But here’s the rub. Ten states chose to honor specific individuals or events associated with individuals. Nine of those states honored men. Only one state honored a woman.

What men were honored? John Muir (California), Caesar Rodney (Delaware), King Kamehameha I (Hawaii), Abraham Lincoln (Illinois), Lewis and Clark (Missouri), George Washington Crossing the Delaware (New Jersey), the Wright Brothers’ first flight (North Carolina), the four presidents of Mount Rushmore (South Dakota), and Duke Ellington (Washington, D.C.). If you include Massachusetts’ quarter depicting a Minuteman and Wyoming’s quarter with a cowboy riding a bucking bronco, there are actually eleven quarters honoring men or featuring prominent male figures. Eleven.

Who was the lone woman honored in this sea of masculinity? Helen Keller, from the great state of Alabama. My hat is off to her.

The lack of women on our nation’s quarters is a serious issue. These quarters are not a relic from the past. They were minted between 1999 and 2009, and women still were not included. Out of the 112 images that comprise the fronts and backs of our nation’s quarters, there is only one picture of one woman.

Have we contributed nothing to our country? How did we become so invisible? What does this say to our sons and daughters about the status of women?

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There’s something about the new $100 bill

May 3, 2010 by Suzanne Scoggins, Director of Women's History   · Comments Off

new bill unveiling

Here’s a rather funny take on the new $100 bill (see our own blog posts here and here) from the Detroit Free Press: Caption This — The new big bill.

The editors of the Detroit Free Press asked readers to caption the photo (right) from the unveiling ceremony.

These were the editors’ favorite responses:

  • “I think he looks disgusted.”
  • “We had to put the Great Wall of China on the reverse side.”
  • “And this is our new $100 bill. It costs $200 to make and is worth $50.”
  • “Big money, big money, big money. I’d like to buy a vowel.”
  • “Everyone in the audience gets one of these after the show!”
  • “I didn’t realize that inflation could be this big!”
  • “Let’s run off a million of ’em, then seek Goldman Sachs’ advice.”
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Women deserve representation on U.S. currency

(Ed. Note: This editorial was originally published in the Baltimore Sun on Friday, April 30, 2010.)

Earlier this year, Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, introduced legislation that would take President Ulysses S. Grant off the $50 bill and replace him with President Ronald Reagan. This legislation has sparked currency wars as Reagan supporters try to unseat Grant, who has held jurisdiction over the $50 bill since 1913. The original $50 bill was issued in 1863 and sported a picture of Alexander Hamilton. The images of seven different men have graced the fifty, George Washington being the only other president. The other men so honored were Henry Clay (1869), Edward Everett (1878), Silas Wright (1882) and William Seward (1891).

As Reagan and Grant supporters duke it out over who should be on the $50 bill, not a single legislator has proposed a woman who could represent the 51 percent of the population that hasn’t been seen on our nation’s currency in more than 100 years. What makes this especially surprising is that 92 women currently serve in the House of Representatives and hopefully understand the importance of female representation on our nation’s currency. …continue reading

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Dr. Long’s op-ed published in the Baltimore Sun

April 30, 2010 by EVE   · 1 Comment »

EVE President Lynette Long has an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun today about the “currency wars,” which have legislators arguing over whether Ronald Reagan or Ulysses S. Grant should be on the $50. As Dr. Long points out, what nobody seems to notice is that we need women on the currency, not more men.

Women deserve representation on U.S. currency:

Earlier this year, Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, introduced legislation that would take President Ulysses S. Grant off the $50 bill and replace him with President Ronald Reagan. This legislation has sparked currency wars as Reagan supporters try to unseat Grant, who has held jurisdiction over the $50 bill since 1913. The original $50 bill was issued in 1863 and sported a picture of Alexander Hamilton. The images of seven different men have graced the fifty, George Washington being the only other president. The other men so honored were Henry Clay (1869), Edward Everett (1878), Silas Wright (1882) and William Seward (1891).

As Reagan and Grant supporters duke it out over who should be on the $50 bill, not a single legislator has proposed a woman who could represent the 51 percent of the population that hasn’t been seen on our nation’s currency in more than 100 years. What makes this especially surprising is that 92 women currently serve in the House of Representatives and hopefully understand the importance of female representation on our nation’s currency. …continue reading

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Take the poll: which woman would YOU put on the currency?

Update 4/27/2010: Wow, this poll is getting a lot of attention! We’ve gotten hundreds of votes just in the past few hours. Keep ‘em coming — it’s extremely interesting to see who people think would be a good choice for our currency.

***

Yesterday on our Facebook page people started talking about which women should go on the U.S. currency. I thought it would be interesting to do a poll on the issue.

The women on this list are based on suggestions I’ve seen in a variety of places. You can choose as many as you like. I’m thinking of paper currency, by the way, not coinage. And if you have a person in mind who isn’t listed, tell us about it in the comments!

Which woman would you put on the currency?

View Results

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My letter in the Washington Post about the new $100 bill

This was published this morning in the Post in the Letters to Editor section:

U.S. needs to face up to sexism on its paper money

Saturday, April 24, 2010

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department unveiled the new $100 bill slated to go into circulation next year ["Redesigned, high-tech Benjamin aims to keep counterfeiters at bay," news story, April 22]. But it still sports a picture of Benjamin Franklin. It’s disappointing that in this era of supposed gender equality, not one of the seven denominations of paper currency in circulation commemorates the achievements of a woman.

The constant selection of men to be honored on our nation’s currency, stamps and statuary sends a powerful message to all citizens about the relative contribution of men and women to our nation’s history. Our sons and daughters are especially vulnerable to this subtle yet insidious sexism. We might tell girls “you can do anything,” but our nation’s symbols and icons tell a different story. Girls and women deserve equal representation.

Lynette Long, Washington

The writer is president of Equal Visibility Everywhere.

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I never realized the Treasury Department had theme music

I’m sure Dr. Long will have more to say on the new $100 bill shortly, but in the meantime I wanted to share this delightful video from the Treasury Department:

It’s wonderful, isn’t it? The music is so stirring, and it’s fun to watch the bill spin and swoop all over the place (though it did put me in mind of those warnings not to fold, spindle, or mutilate).

The list of features included in the new bill is impressive:

  • Blue 3-D Security Ribbon
  • The Bell in the Inkwell
  • Portrait Watermark
  • Security Thread
  • Color-shifting 100
  • Quill Pen (not sure that’s a security feature, but it’s pretty)

It seems the only thing the Treasury Department can’t put on the currency is a woman.

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