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Women's History Medals

Here are more Congressional Gold Medals that honor the work of great American women.


OBVERSE: 1988 Betty Ford

REVERSE: 1988 Betty Ford

1988 Betty Ford

As First Lady, Betty Ford helped artists and handicapped children.  She also helped women to be treated more fairly and to get better health care.  Her "Betty Ford Center" helps people stop taking drugs and alcohol who haven't been able to stop by themselves.

Gerald R. and Betty Ford received this medal because they worked hard to serve the people of the United States and take care of those who needed it.


1998 Little Rock Nine

The Little Rock Nine were nine students—six of them were girls—who were the first African-Americans to study at Central High School in 1957.  The school was in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Though all were excellent students, some people didn't want them to go to that school because of their race and were very mean to them.  But the girls went on to raise families, have careers, and win awards.  One even teaches at Central High.  The school's rule used to be that only White students could go there, and changing that rule is called "desegregation" or "integration."

This medal honors Jean Brown Trickey, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Melba Patillo Beals, Terrence Roberts, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed Wair, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, and Jefferson Thomas for their "selfless heroism and the pain they suffered in the cause of civil rights by integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas."

OBVERSE: Little Rock Nine

REVERSE: Little Rock Nine

OBVERSE: Rosa Parks

REVERSE: Rosa Parks

1999 Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was a Black woman who was put in jail one evening in 1955.  The reason she was arrested was that she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a White man.  When others heard about it, they stopped riding on the busses. That's called a "boycott."  They boycotted the busses because they knew it wasn't fair that Ms. Parks was in jail and that Black people didn't have the same rights as White people.  The boycott worked to change the bus rules, and helped people work on changing other unfair rules.  Rosa Parks kept working for civil rights for many years after as well.

This medal honors her as the "first lady of civil rights" and "mother of the freedom movement."  Her "quiet dignity ignited the most significant social movement in the history of the United States."


2004 Dorothy I. Height

President George W. Bush presented the congressional gold medal to Dr. Dorothy I. Height.  The medal honored her for a lifetime of work helping people exercise their civil rights.  She was president of the National Council of Negro Women from 1958 until she retired in 1998.  She worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders throughout the 1960s.  She also received the Citizens Medal Award from President Ronald Reagan in 1989 and the Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1994.

The congressional gold medal was awarded to Dr. Height in recognition of "her many contributions to the Nation."  The medal is inscribed with her words:  "We African-American women seldom do just what we want to do, but always do what we have to do.  I am grateful to have been in a time and place where I could be a part of what was needed."

OBVERSE: 2004 Dorothy I. Height

REVERSE: 2004 Dorothy I. Height

OBVERSE: WASP

REVERSE: WASP

2010 Women Airforce Service Pilots

In March 2010, leading members of Congress presented the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II medal to WASP members.  Their pioneering military service led to reform in the U.S. Armed Forces.  The WASPs flew more than 60,000,000 miles in every type of aircraft and on every type of assignment flown by male pilots except combat missions.  During that time, 38 women pilots lost their lives.

The front of the WASP Congressional gold medal portrays a WASP wearing pilot headgear.  Three other pilots are also shown in period uniforms, with an airborne AT-6 in the background.  The back features the three aircraft that the WASPs flew during their training: the AT-6, the B-26, and the P-51.  The WASP wings are depicted at the base of the design.  A legend states one of their accomplishments: "The First Women in History to Fly American Military Aircraft."


OBVERSE: Mother Teresa of Calcutta

The Congressional Gold Medal is sometimes awarded to non-Americans as well.  In 1997, Congress honored Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was born in Albania in 1910.  She became a nun and later, when she was 38, moved to India to live with the poorest people in Calcutta.  Part of her work was to teach them how to wash and how to read and write in their own language, Bengali.  Congress honored Mother Teresa for her "outstanding and enduring contributions through humanitarian and charitable activities."

REVERSE: Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Besides medals, we have commemorative coins that have honored women, such as:

In coins that circulate, there are:

Walking Lady Liberty Dollar

And let's not forget Lady Liberty, the symbol that has graced our spending money since the United States Mint was created in 1792.


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