Why Women’s History Month?
Throughout history, women have made major contributions to society, but their work was not always recognized and rewarded in the same way as the contributions of men. Women’s history was not a well-studied field before the first Women’s History Week in 1978, held in Sonoma County, California.
At that time, a single day called International Women’s Day had been celebrated in many countries for more than half a century. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter was the first president to declare a National Women’s History Week in the month of March.
As more and more individual states made women’s history a month-long celebration, it was clear that many people supported the cause. Congress declared March to be National Women’s History Month permanently in 1987.
President Carter pointed out in his message to the nation: “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation.
“Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
Women at the Mint
Did you know that women have been a part of the U.S. Mint’s story since the beginning?
In 1795, just three years after Congress established the Mint and at a time when women had few job opportunities, two women were hired as adjusters. Adjusters weighed blanks and “adjusted” the ones weighing too much by filing them down to the correct weight before the blanks were stamped into coins.
Throughout the 19th century, women were hired for other types of jobs at the Mint, spreading from coin production positions into clerkships, management, and in 1933, directorship of the Mint. Nellie Tayloe Ross served as the first female director and was also the longest serving: 20 years. Today, like in 1795, women are essential to the Mint’s success. Learn more about the Mint’s female trailblazers.
Women on Coins
The Mint also honors notable women in history through its coin programs, including commemorative coins, gold coins, and circulating coins such as the dollar coin. The Mint also honors women on Congressional Gold Medals.
Play “Textile Tales”
Have you ever wondered what life was like in the 1840s? Play “Textile Tales” and find out! Set during the Industrial Revolution in Lowell, MA, this fun ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ game allows you to pick a character and face a series of decisions that will affect your future.
The game highlights “mill girls”, the young women who made up the majority of the Lowell textile mill workforce, who became an important voice for labor by advocating for better working conditions, supporting abolition, and embracing education.
Women’s History Lesson Plans
These lesson plans focus on women featured on coins (Sacagawea, Helen Keller) and women’s suffrage.
Using Your Senses (Grades K–1)
Students will read an age-appropriate text to learn about the woman featured on Alabama’s quarter reverse, Helen Keller. They will also conduct a science exploration of the five senses.
Special Traits (Grades 2–3)
Students will read an age-appropriate text to learn about the woman featured on Alabama’s quarter reverse, Helen Keller. They will use graphic organizers to record what they have learned about this woman.
Students will learn about the lives of Native Americans who have made significant impacts to the U.S. Space Program and other STEM fields, including Mary Golda Ross. Students will make predictions about coin elements, research Native American historical figures, and create a biography and/or social media profile to represent their accomplishments.
The Many Faces of Coins (Grades 3–5)
Students will examine and discuss the designs on the circulating coins produced by the United States Mint. They will read to learn about the woman and child featured on the Golden Dollar. They will then compare and contrast this coin to the other circulating U.S. coins.
The Journey of Sacagawea (Grades 3–5)
Students will examine the life of Sacagawea, the exceptional woman chosen to appear on the Golden Dollar, and will write journal entries based on their research.
Who IS That Woman? (Grades 3–5)
Students will participate in a jigsaw reading activity about the contributions of Sacagawea to the Corps of Discovery. They will also write a poem to reflect what they learned.
Using the 2019 America the Beautiful Quarter about Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts, students will learn about the history of the Lowell textile mills and explore their significance to the Industrial Revolution.
Voting for Change (Grades 4–6)
Students will identify important events in the history of voting rights. Students will identify the importance of amendments to the Constitution.
Why is Sacagawea on the Golden Dollar? (Grades 6–8)
After researching the decision to place the image of Sacagawea on the Golden Dollar, students will write persuasive essays either defending or opposing this decision.