10 reasons to put Helen Keller on the new $10 bill

The inspirational deafblind icon is the obvious choice to appear on the United States’ first tactile currency note

Helen Keller seated at her desk

Helen Keller's many accomplishments make her an ideal choice for the newly redesigned $10 bill. Photo: Perkins Archives.

November 4, 2015

The U.S. Treasury made history when it announced in June that a woman will be featured on the redesigned $10 bill, slated for release in 2020. But who should it be?

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has asked the public for suggestions, and is expected to make an announcement by the end of the year. So far, online polls favor former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, abolitionist Harriet Tubman and Native American guide Sacagawea. Many others have recommended Helen Keller, the world-famous disability rights advocate and former student at Perkins School for the Blind. Naturally, we agree. Here are 10 reasons why:  

  1. The new $10 bill will be the first tactile currency note in the United States, specifically designed so people who are blind or visually impaired can independently identify the denomination. What better place to honor Keller’s legacy?
  2. Keller worked tirelessly to improve education for students who are blind and deafblind. She also partnered with organizations like Lions Club International and the American Foundation of the Blind to make the world a better place for people with vision loss.
  3. Keller was a leading figure in the fight for women’s rights. She participated in marches and protests to gain women the right to vote, and gave speeches supporting equality for women.
  4. Despite not being able to see or hear, Keller wrote 12 books and numerous articles on subjects including politics, religion and issues facing the blind community. She used writing as a way to give a voice to the voiceless.   
  5. She believed strongly in equality for all and spent most of her adult life championing the rights of minorities, immigrants and people with disabilities through her lectures and writings. She also helped found the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
  6. Keller became the first person who was deafblind to earn a bachelor degree when she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1904. She was also the first woman to be awarded an honorary doctorate from Harvard University.
  7. She shared her story of overcoming adversity to inspire others. In 1955, Keller received an Academy Award for the documentary about her life, “Helen Keller in Her Story.”
  8. Keller traveled to more than 40 countries, meeting with world leaders and acting as a goodwill ambassador for the United States. She also met every living U.S. president, from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson.
  9. In 1964, President Johnson awarded Keller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. A year later, she was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame at the New York World’s Fair.
  10. Keller remains influential long after her death. In 1999 her name appeared on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most important figures of the 20th century, alongside Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein.

Tell the Treasury Dept via social media using #TheNew10 that you support putting Helen Keller on the new $10 bill. Read more about Helen Keller’s life and accomplishments »