Women Making Financial History

In association with the International Museum of Women (IMOW) Click here to learn about third-party website links, the Wells Fargo History Museum in San Francisco has opened its latest exhibit, “Women Making Financial History.” This exhibit examines women’s roles in making and managing money, from the early history of the United States to today — all around the world.

Women Making Financial History exhibitThe exhibit features striking photo essays of women benefitting from micro-lending in Nepal, new entrepreneurship of Arab women in Qatar, and more. The original material is from IMOW’s virtual exhibition, “Economica,” Click here to learn about third-party website links which explores the many facets of women’s experiences of and contributions in the global economy.

“Women Making Financial History” introduces women who came West to make their fortunes, and build businesses and communities. It shows female Wells Fargo agents who provided financial services across the frontier, and remarkable woman pioneers in banking. You can enter a money vault to view historic coins and currency featuring women. You can experience banking in the 1920s inside our recreated bank Women’s Department, and see vintage bank advertisements focused on women customers.

Your mug on dough! (Click for larger image in a new window)The first woman to be portrayed on U.S. currency was Martha Washington, the first First Lady of the United States. She was featured on an 1891 One Dollar Silver Certificate, which were exchanged for silver coins from 1878 to 1964. (It is still legal tender, too.) In the Museum, you can take photos and print your mug on vintage style bills, and take them home with you. (Look serious or silly — your choice!)

Find out what it was really like to work in a bank a long time ago, as you try your hand on our 1895 check cutter. See other machines that men and women bankers would have used back then. You can talk to a friend on two old-fashioned candlestick telephones. No speed dialing, though.

Stocking moneyEver heard of a “Stocking Room”? There was a time in the early 1900s when women didn’t feel comfortable entering the very masculine environment of banks, and even avoided having bank accounts. Some women tucked their money and valuables in their stockings instead, under their floor-length skirts.

In order to gain these women for customers, banks came up with the Stocking Room — a Women’s Department. This was a safe haven where ladies could remove their cash and do their banking without the distraction of men, cigars and spittoons.

Women Making Financial History will run through spring 2010, and can be seen at:

The Wells Fargo History Museum
420 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA

Admission to the Museum is free. Hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed weekends and bank holidays.

More information can be found at our Wells Fargo Historical Services website! Just click on “New Online Exhibit: Women Making Financial History.”

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