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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 8, February 24, 2008, Article 39

BLACK HISTORY MONTH TOPIC: BLACK HISTORY ON MONEY

[This item was published this week in a publication
of the University of Southern California. -Editor]

In celebration of Black History Month, Black Alumni
Programs, in collaboration with USC Libraries Special
Collections and the Center for Black Cultural and
Student Affairs, hosted "Black History on the Money"
on Tuesday night.

The event featured a presentation of currency-related
historical artifacts and a discussion with the original
collector of these materials, John E. Collins, in an
effort to raise awareness about blacks' role in designing
and producing U.S. currency.

"Even though this has been information that's been
suppressed and excluded, all of us have held dollar
bills and coins in our hands," said Susan Anderson,
managing director of L.A. as Subject at USC Libraries.
"This collection gives us a sense of the history of the
United States, the history of slavery, and how the
history of African Americans has been reflected in
U.S. currency."

The collection showcases several notable artifacts,
including Confederate currency, a cancelled check from
the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company and silver
dollars adorned with the reliefs of famous black people.

Collins, a numismatic historian, first became interested
in collecting currency as a teenager, when his friend
and mentor showed him a piece of Confederate money that
featured vignettes of slaves.

He has shared his knowledge on the subject in various
ways, most notably by convincing the ANA to officially
recognize Isaac Scott Hathaway as the first black American
to design and sculpt an American coin, a silver dollar.

"I encourage everybody: Get in those libraries. I've been
to the Library of Congress, the National Archives, because
I wanna know," he said. "If there's something out there,
I wanna know it and verify it and be able to talk about
it with authority."

USC Libraries Special Collections is in the midst of talks
with Brian Turner, the collection's current owner, about
acquiring the collection for USC's archives, Anderson said.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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