Women on the $10? These Eight Women Could Fill the Bill

  • Kimberly Kellison
    Kimberly R. Kellison, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the history department in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences
June 24, 2015

Baylor historian looks beyond familiar names to women who merit consideration

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WACO, Texas (June 24, 2015) – Some notable but lesser-known women in American history might be overlooked as possibilities for the soon-to-be redesigned $10 bill – the first paper currency in more than a century to feature a portrait of a woman.

An online poll earlier this year advocating for women on the $20 brought forth 20 nominees, including such well-known names as Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Wilma Mankiller.

But are there other women in U.S. history who merit consideration on the $10?

Kimberly R. Kellison, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the history department in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences, compiled a list of remarkable but maybe less known women who meet the Treasury’s criteria as champions of democracy or who helped break boundaries in a democratic society.

“I chose eight women who were not a part of the original short list for the WomenOn20s campaign,” Kellison said. “What unites the women, even though they lived in different times and addressed various causes, is their passion for improving the conditions of those who faced oppression or inequality.”

1. Jane Addams – Social reformer; co-founder of Hull House social settlement and leader of the settlement movement; established the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931

2 and 3. Angelina and Sarah Grimké – Born into a slaveholding family in Charleston, South Carolina; moved to the North and became early participants in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements (Angelina wrote “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South” in 1836, calling for Southern white women to adopt abolitionism)

4. Fannie Lou Hamer – Civil rights leader born into a sharecropping family in Mississippi; the youngest of 20 children; helped organize Mississippi Freedom Summer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in support of African-American voting rights and to draw attention to the blatant and unapologetic nature of Southern segregation

5. Harriet Jacobs – Ex-slave and abolitionist who wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; lived seven years in a small attic crawl space in North Carolina before escaping to the North

6. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones – Labor organizer and co-founder of the Industrial Workers of the World in the early 20th century; supported, among other labor reforms, stricter child labor laws

7. Jeannette Rankin – First woman elected to the House of Representatives; pacifist (voted against American involvement in World War I and World War II)

8. Ida B. Wells-Barnett – Former slave who in the 1880s challenged segregation by refusing to move from a first-class rail car (she was forcibly removed from the car); through journalism crusaded openly against lynching; co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Another possibility, Kellison said, is the symbolic “Rosie the Riveter,” the woman depicted in World War II posters to represent the patriotism of women industrial workers.

“Rosie the Riveter represents the possibilities, as well as the limits, for women in America during and after World War II,” Kellison said. “During wartime, the U.S. government encouraged women to display their patriotism by taking industrial jobs traditionally held by males. When the war ended, women were expected to move back into more ‘traditional’ domestic occupations.”

The new $10 will be unveiled in 2020, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.

“Why does it matter in 2015 that we are poised to include a woman on our paper currency? It matters because women have shaped the fabric of our nation in ways equally important as men,” Kellison said. “We are lucky to live in a country that accepts and applauds women’s achievements, although women still have not attained full equality with men. Featuring a woman on the $10 bill is an important symbol of our society’s move toward a more inclusive sense of democracy, of recognizing the important role that women, as well as men, have played in our country’s history.”

The only women to appear on U.S. paper currency were Pocahontas from 1865 to 1869 and Martha Washington on a $1 silver certificate from 1891 to 1896. Dollar coins have included the images of Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea.

As the Treasury goes through the design process, they have asked the public to share their views via social media by using the hashtag #TheNew10: https://thenew10.treasury.gov/share-your-ideas.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.

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