Q&A: Celebrate Iowa
Q: Could an Iowan be featured on a new quarter?
A: Many Iowans are familiar with the popular series of quarters that feature each of the 50 states in the America the Beautiful Quarter Program. Issued in 2004, the Iowa quarter was the 29th coin to join the series because it was the 29th state to join the Union. It salutes Iowa’s deeply-rooted foundation in education and depicts a teacher and her students planting a tree near a schoolhouse. The design is based on a painting by Grant Wood who was born in Anamosa, Iowa. The redesign of the 25-cent coin in the America the Beautiful series will conclude at the end of 2021.
In celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the 19th amendment, Congress voted to commemorate the women’s suffrage movement by approving a new quarter series. As then-Senate president pro tem in the U.S. Senate, I was proud to sign the bill in January myself before sending it to President Trump’s desk for his signature. My mother was among the first women in the country to cast her ballot following ratification of the 19th amendment. These new coins are a fitting tribute to her and other women who supported the women’s suffrage movement.
The Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act directs the U.S. Treasury to mint and issue quarters that “shall be emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of a prominent woman who was a resident of a state, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory.” The U.S. Mint will circulate 20 quarters that will be struck from 2022 through 2025 with the featured design on the reverse of each coin.
Specifically, those who qualify for consideration are women whose accomplishments may include but are not limited to suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space and arts. According to the U.S. Mint, up to five prominent American women will be honored each year.
Under federal law, U.S. coins may not feature any living person, with only a handful of exceptions on record. The selection of the 20 American women chosen for this series shall be made by the U.S. Treasury Secretary with input from the public and in consultation with the Smithsonian Institution American Women’s History Initiative, National Women’s History Museum and the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus.
I encourage families, school students, educators and civic leaders to consider Iowa heroines from their communities who have had historic impacts and achievements that would qualify them for consideration for this new coin series honoring American women. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s celebrate all those who made a difference in their homes, places of work, communities, and through public and military service to light a better future for others to follow.
Q: How can Iowans celebrate Iowa History Month?
A: March is also Iowa History Month. It’s the perfect month to kick off a series of programs and events that will commemorate Iowa’s 175th anniversary of statehood on Dec. 28, 2021. Throughout the year, Iowa will celebrate our history, heritage, people and places with events planned in museums, libraries, civic spaces and online for Iowans in every corner of the state.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has created a calendar of events that showcase 13,000 years of history to celebrate our state’s past, present and future. Programs and exhibits will celebrate contributions and milestones that have shaped our state, forging a legacy of opportunity and resiliency handed down from one generation to the next. It will host a series of free, online educational programs geared towards younger generations and households may register for a free kit to celebrate Iowa’s 175th year of statehood.
On March 5, the State Historical Museum of Iowa premiered its special anniversary exhibition called “Iowa’s People and Places” at its location just west of the Capitol complex in Des Moines. Featured exhibits include artifacts from the life and career of astronaut Peggy Whitson, a medical bag used by Dr. Edward Carter, the first African American to graduate from the University of Iowa medical college, handcrafted Meskwaki beadwork and an embroidered story cloth by a Hmong immigrant.
Like many of my fellow Iowans, I enjoy learning about history and its contributions that enrich the lives and experience of future generations. Learning about our past—not canceling it—is how we shape a better future for our children and grandchildren.
As a lifelong Iowan, it’s an honor to represent Iowa in the U.S. Senate. I encourage Iowans to take advantage of Iowa History Month to take full measure of the history and culture in each of Iowa’s 99 counties and the sacrifices and contributions of those who have helped make Iowa the best place on Earth to call home.