Dollars & Sense: Inside the American Women Quarters Program
Beginning in 2022, the U.S. Mint will commence its American Women Quarters program. The initiative, which will last through 2025, was set in motion when Congress passed a law directing the Mint to identify 20 prominent women throughout American history and honor their accomplishments over the next four years.
Here's what you need to know about the new program and how to get access to the coins as they become available.
About the American Women Quarters Program
The American Women Quarters program was first set in motion by Congress in a bill that was signed into law in early 2021.
In the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, the legislative body directed the Mint to celebrate American women throughout history with liaisons with the National Women's History Museum, the Smithsonian Institution American Women’s History Initiative and the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus.
During the process, the public was invited to submit recommendations, and more than 11,000 were submitted.
The Mint also consulted with the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Gallery of Art to develop some design concepts.
Bucking the traditional design on the quarter's obverse — or the "head" side — the quarters will feature a right-facing portrait of George Washington, which was composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser (above).
Fraser's design was among those that were originally submitted in 1932 to celebrate the 200th birthday of the country's first president. However, the Treasury Secretary at the time chose a right-facing design by sculptor John Flanagan instead.
Fraser was the first woman to design a U.S. coin with the Alabama Centennial Half Dollar in 1921. Her Washington design (above) has been used once before on a 1999 gold coin that marked the 200th anniversary of the president's death.
Who Will Be Featured?
The Mint's focus is on women who represent accomplishments in a number of areas, such as suffrage, civil rights, the abolitionist movement, government, science, space and arts. It's also ensuring that the program will honor women from ethnically and geographically diverse backgrounds.
For 2022, the agency has announced that the following women will be featured in the program:
- Maya Angelou: Angelou was a celebrated author, poet, singer, dancer, scholar and civil rights activist.
- Sally Ride: Dr. Ride was the first American woman to visit space. She was also a physicist and an educator.
- Wilma Mankiller: The first female principal chief of Cherokee Nation, Mankiller was the first woman to be elected as chief of any major Native American tribe and spent her life fighting for Native rights.
- Nina Otero-Warren: Otero-Warren was the first female superintendent of public schools in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also the first Hispanic woman to run for U.S. Congress. She was also a leader in her state's women's suffrage movement.
- Anna May Wong: The first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, Wong appeared in over 60 movies and also performed for television, radio and the stage.
You can learn more about each woman by visiting the National Women's History Museum website.
“These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture,” United States Mint Chief Administrative Officer Alison L. Doone said in a statement. “Generations to come will look at coins bearing these designs and be reminded of what can be accomplished with vision, determination and a desire to improve opportunities for all."
The Mint hasn't announced who will be featured in the program in subsequent years. You can learn more about the designs for the 2022 quarters (featured below) by visiting the U.S. Mint website.
How to Collect American Women Quarters Program Coins
The Mint has yet to announce exactly when the first batch of American Women quarters will be released, other than to say that the program will begin in 2022.
As a result, interested collectors should keep an eye out for news releases from the agency for more details.
- Purchase them directly from the Mint
- Attend a quarter launch ceremony
- Visit a U.S. Mint coin dispensing location
- Visit your local bank or credit union
- Purchase them from coin dealers, auctions and other sources on the secondary market
You could also collect the coins as you go about your regular everyday shopping. However, with a coin shortage going on, it might take a while to complete your collection.
The Bottom Line
The American Women Quarters program is set to highlight the accomplishments of prominent women from all walks of life and throughout American history. The four-year program will see five new quarter designs per year, each providing Americans with a stronger sense of the rich and diverse history of the country.
If you're interested in collecting American Women quarters, watch out for more news from the U.S. Mint when it releases the new quarters into circulation.
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