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Found 6,091 Collections

 

Money and Exchange in West Africa

The objects in this collection, from the crescent-shaped manilla to the colorful banknotes, formed part of West Africa’s vibrant and varied monetary system in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Each object has its own story about when and how it was used. A person shopping in a market in Accra, Ghana in the 1980s, for example, might have received the 1 cedi coin below as change from a small transaction. In the Akan language, the word “cedi” means cowrie shell, a currency which a person shopping in the same market a century earlier might have used. Like the 1 cedi coin, cowrie shells were used to make small purchases. Symbolically, the image of a cowrie shell appears on the coin. Not far from Accra, in the old Asante city of Kumasi, the figurative gold weights pictured here would have been used around the same time to measure gold dust for transactions ranging from significant market purchases to judicial fines. 

How did West Africa move from a monetary system based on objects like manillas, gold dust, and cowrie shells to one based on notes and coins? It was once popular to attribute this change to the colonization of West Africa by European governments in the nineteenth century. According to this story, colonial governments wanted to impose their own “modern” currencies on West African economies to make it easier for merchants and colonial authorities to do business between the colony and Europe. From recent historical research on West African currencies and their uses, we now know the story is not that simple. Colonial governments did introduce new currency systems with European forms of money, but they were not immediately or universally adopted by Africans in the way that colonial governments intended. 

After the end of the colonial period, some countries like Ghana and Nigeria, issued their own currencies as an expression of national sovereignty. Other new countries, such as Senegal and the Ivory Coast, focused instead on building or maintaining monetary unions with shared currencies in order to reinforce links between their economies. Some of these post-colonial coins and banknotes depict pre-colonial currencies, like the cowrie on the Ghanaian cedi coin or the Kissi penny on the Liberian dollar. 

The history of West African money from the nineteenth century onwards reflects the history of economic, political, and social change in the region over that same period. This collection uses objects from the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection to tell that history, linking to broader questions about the nature and uses of money, the ways in which economic change can influence how money is used, and the relationship between money and political sovereignty.

 

Below is a list of suggested readings on West African money and exchange. To see all of the West African currency objects in the National Numismatic Collection, click here.  Please feel free to reach out to Dr. Leigh Gardner or Dr. Ellen Feingold with questions or feedback.

 

This project was generously funded by the Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund at the London School of Economics. It was completed in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection.

 

Suggested Reading

Historical overviews:

Gardner, Leigh A. “From Cowries to Mobile Phones: African Monetary Systems Since 1800.” In The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers, edited by Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani, and Felix Meier zu Selhausen. African Economic History Network (2018): https://www.aehnetwork.org/textbook/from-cowries-to-mobile-phones-african-monetary-systems-since-1800/

Guyer, J. and Karin Pallaver. "Money and Currency in African History.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (2018): https://oxfordre.com/africanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.001.0001/acrefore-9780190277734-e-144


Pre-colonial currencies:

Arhin, Kwame. “Monetization in the Asante State.” In Money Matters: Instability, Values and Social Payments in the Modern History of West African Communities, edited by Jane I. Guyer, 97-110. London: James Currey, 1995.

Herbert, Eugenia W. Red Gold of Africa: Copper in Precolonial History and Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

Hogendorn, Jan S., and Marion Johnson. The Shell Money of the Slave Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.


Colonial currency systems and African responses:

Feingold, Ellen R. "International Currency Counterfeiting Schemes in Interwar West Africa." Journal of West African History 3, no. 1 (2017): 77-101. 

Gardner, Leigh A. “The Curious Incident of the Franc in the Gambia.” Financial History Review 22, no. 3 (2015): 291-314.

Gardner, Leigh A. "The Rise and Decline of Sterling in Liberia.” Economic History Review 64, no. 4 (2014): 1089-1112.

Guyer, Jane I. “Introduction: The Currency Interface and its Dynamics.” In Money Matters: Instability, Values and Social Payments in the Modern History of West African Communities, edited by Jane I. Guyer, 1-34. (London: James Currey, 1995).

Helleiner, Eric. “The Monetary Dimensions of Colonialism: Why Did Imperial Powers Create Currency Blocs?” Geopolitics 7, no. 1 (2002): 5-30.

Hogendorn, Jan S., and Henry A. Gemery. “Continuity in West African Monetary History? An Outline of Monetary Development.” African Economic History 17 (1988): 127-146. 

Hopkins, A.G. “The Currency Revolution in South-West Nigeria in the Late Nineteenth Century.” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 3, no. 3 (1966): 471-483. 

Saul, Mahir. “Money in Colonial Transition: Cowries and Francs in West Africa.” American Anthropologist 106, no. 1 (2004): 71-84.


Money and national independence:

Schenk, Catherine R. “Monetary Institutions in Newly Independent Countries: The Experience of Malaya, Ghana, and Nigeria in the 1950s.” Financial History Review 4, no. 2 (1997): 181-198.

Stasavage, David. The Political Economy of a Common Currency: the CFA Franc Zone Since 1945. Aldershot: Ashgate (2003).

Uche, Chibuike U. “Bank of England vs. the IBRD: Did the Nigerian Colony Deserve a Central Bank?” Explorations in Economic History 34 (1997): 220-241. 

NMAH and London School of Economics
31
 

Wind

Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center
6
 

IEO Summit

This is a simple collection for the IEO Summit. Participants will select their favorite 3 resources from this collection and come up with the content necessary to create Promotional Postcards to send to teachers and classrooms.
Navigation North
12
 

NHD at NMAAHC Collection: Breaking Barriers in History

Welcome to the National Museum of African American History and Culture's Collection Connection Grid for National History Day 2020! Below is an assortment of selected documents, images, objects and videos that highlight the African American experience in relation to the 2020 NHD theme: Breaking Barriers in History. Use these items as inspiration for a project topic, or use the items to help expand your research on a topic you have already selected.  This collection is designed to be self-guided by students and educators participating in National History Day.

 #NHD2020

Keywords: African American, NMAAHC, National History Day, NHD, Collection, Connection, Grid, breaking, barriers, history, project, topic, ideas, 2020

National Museum of African American History and Culture
66
 

African American History Month Resources

These classroom resources from different Smithsonian museums focus on African American history and culture. 



Tag: Black History 

Philippa Rappoport
25
 

African American History Month Family Festival: Interviews, Performances, Highlights

This collections comes from a African American History Month family festival created to complement the exhibition, "The Black List." Included here are a gallery tour with curator Ann Shumard, and interviews with puppeteer Schroeder Cherry, guitarist Warner Williams, the Taratibu Youth Association Step Dance Group, silhouette artist Lauren Muney and collage artist Michael Albert.

Philippa Rappoport
7
 

Did American women [or the women of your state] deserve the right to vote in the early 20th century?

Who had the right to vote in the US [or your state] by the early 20th century?; What roles did women play in society at this time?; Who supported and opposed women's suffrage and why?

Though the answer to this compelling question might feel obvious to 21st century Americans, the issue was far from settled at the time. This dichotomy adds to its intellectual heft and engages students' inherent interest in fairness, discrimination, and rights. (It also connects to ongoing debates about the franchise and who is entitled to it.) The supporting questions invite students to learn more about voting in the time period, the changing roles played by women, and the people who might have supported or opposed women's political equality, all of which help scaffold students' investigations into the ideas and issues behind this compelling question.

#TeachingInquiry

Kristen Levithan
6
 

REMAKING THE RULES: EXPLORING WOMEN WHO BROKE BARRIERS

How have women created space for themselves in the arts and culture?

This collection features resources related to the December 5, 2019, professional development webinar, "Remaking the Rules:  Exploring Women Who Broke Barriers," hosted by educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.  This joint webinar is one of three in the series A Woman’s Place Is in the Curriculum: Women’s History through American Art and Portraiture. Learn how American art and portraiture can bring diverse women’s stories into your classroom, connecting with themes you may already teach. Discover strategies for engaging your students in close looking and critical thinking across disciplines.  #SAAMTeach #NPGteach

This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. To learn more, visit the Smithsonian American Women History Initiative website. #BecauseOfHerStory

Anne Showalter
13
 

PERSISTING AND RESISTING: EXPLORING WOMEN AS ACTIVISTS

How have women led the way in activism and social justice movements? 

This collection features resources related to the October 8, 2019, professional development webinar, "Persisting and Resisting: Exploring Women as Activists," hosted by educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.  This joint webinar is one of three in the series A Woman’s Place Is in the Curriculum: Women’s History through American Art and Portraiture. Learn how American art and portraiture can bring diverse women’s stories into your classroom, connecting with themes you may already teach. Discover strategies for engaging your students in close looking and critical thinking across disciplines.  #SAAMTeach #NPGteach

This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. To learn more, visit the Smithsonian American Women History Initiative website.
#BecauseOfHerStory


Anne Showalter
14
 

WHO TELLS YOUR STORY? EXPLORING WOMEN AND IDENTITY

Women’s identities are complex, intersecting with race, class, sexuality, etc., and have often been overlooked or erased from history. What is the importance of being able to express yourself and voice your story? 

This collection features resources related to the November 7, 2019, professional development webinar, "Who Tells Your Story? Exploring Women and Identity," hosted by educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.  This joint webinar is one of three in the series A Woman’s Place Is in the Curriculum: Women’s History through American Art and Portraiture. Learn how American art and portraiture can bring diverse women’s stories into your classroom, connecting with themes you may already teach. Discover strategies for engaging your students in close looking and critical thinking across disciplines.  #SAAMTeach #NPGteach

This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. To learn more, visit the Smithsonian American Women History Initiative website. #BecauseOfHerStory


Anne Showalter
25
 

Slavery in Brazil

Why was Brazil one of the last countries in the world to abolish slavery?

The idea is to make learners understand the long-lasting slavery process in Brazil and be aware of its consequences to our society.

Supporting Questions: 1) When did it happen and what was the political context?

                                           2) How slaves were treated?

                                           3)Who took advantage of it?   

By these questions leaners will grasp the whole scenario (economical, political, cultural and social) and see that the effects of this process is everywhere and explain social relations we have nowadays.                                     

#TeachingInquiry

Alessandra Zan
6
 

Can you name #5WomenArtists?

This collection is my response to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.'s social media campaign asking, "Can you name five women artists (#5WomenArtists)?" The artists featured are Yayoi Kusama, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Kruger, Alma Thomas and Elaine de Kooning with short biographical notes, selected works and learning resources.

Anyone can create a collection on the Smithsonian Learning Lab. Here are some short tutorials to get you started: https://learninglab.si.edu/create. The Smithsonian Learning Lab can be a great research tool to learn more about your favorite artists, discover new artists and share collections of your favorites and new discoveries to provide inspiration for others. Discussion questions and additional sources of inspiration for exploring artists that may be new to you are provided at the end of this collection.

Tags: Women's History Month, Yayoi Kusama, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Kruger, Alma Thomas, Elaine de Kooning, #BecauseOfHerStory

Ashley Naranjo
70
 

Modern Guernica

Hilary Ypma
4
 

Culture Lotto

Images to show when playing third grade Culture Lotto game.

Jean-Marie Galing
104
 

Mexican Art & U.S. History: Carmen Lomas Garza

This collection will provide an opportunity for students to analyze artwork, read background information, and connect art with historical events. At the heart of this activity is artwork created by Latino artist Carmen Lomas Garza. These paintings reflect the experiences of Garza's family and Latino life in 1980s America. In addition to image analysis, teachers could extend an opportunity for students to identify and discuss connections between Garza's art and the Mexican American experience from the 1960s to the present. This collection includes:

  • A timeline of U.S.-Mexican American relations
  • Video/audio of Reagan signing the 1986 Immigration Reform Control Act
  • And an overview of immigration reform via ABC-CLIO (requires subscription). 

#ethnicstudies #LISDSS

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Connections #TEKS

  • 24A describe how the characteristics of and issues in U.S. history have been reflected in various genres of art, music, film, and literature;

Angela King
24
 

Civil War

Glenn Wiebe
9
 

What does it mean to be human in the Anthropocene?

This collection was designed to serve as a bridge between the high school biology units of evolution and ecology as students explore the evolution of humanity through both a biological and moral lens.  Students will use Project Zero Thinking Routines to examine various artifacts from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as they grapple with answering the overarching question: What does it mean to be human in the Anthropocene?  #GoGlobal

What does it mean to be human in the Anthropocene? : Students answer/revise their initial answers to the overarching question after gaining additional knowledge from various learning activities: 

  • Claim/Support/Question:  Students use the Claim/Support/Question thinking routine to frame their thinking around and grapple with this question.
  • Skull Analysis > Human Evolution Misconceptions: After the discussion on human evolution misconceptions, students can revise their thoughts on "what it means to be human" and begin to develop a class list on the characteristics shared by humans.
  • Constructing an Ancestral Timeline: After constructing their timeline, students will have gained additional an understanding of specific morphological and behavioral characteristics of humans. 

Using this Collection: 

  • Detailed suggestions on how to implement the learning activities are found in the "information" section of each of the Blue Activity Tiles as well as the Project Zero Thinking Routine Tiles.
  • Notes regarding the use of each Project Zero Thinking Routine are documented as annotations within each individual Thinking Routine tile and provide specific instructions on how align these routines with this collection.  

Global Competence Connection:

  • Students will be challenged to “investigate the world” both in a modern and prehistoric sense as they explore this the resources in this collection.
  • One goal of this collection is to inspire students to take action as a result of considering the impacts that modern humans have had on the planet. 

Additional Questions Explored through this Collection:

  • What (specific behaviors, adaptations, etc.) allow species to survive?
    • This question can be highlighted during the skull sorting and analysis activities in order to help students review the concepts of adaptation, evolution by natural selection, etc. 
      • Extension: Teachers can project photos of these species in their natural environments and ask students to identify the adaptations that aid them in survival. This exploration can be used to explore full-body morphological differences between humans and non-humans.    
    • This question can also be explored as students analyze the Human Evolution Timeline Interactive. Teachers can ask students to compare and contrast the adaptations of various hominid species and propose ways in which these adaptations aided species to survive in their various environments. 
  • How have climatic changes impacted the survival of species over time?
    • This question can be presented as students explore the Interactive Human Evolution Timeline. The timeline presents data showing how the Earth's climate has fluctuated over the 8 million years of human evolution and highlights the fact that some of the most important milestones in human evolution occurred during the greatest climatic fluctuations. 
    • Teachers can use this exploration to foreshadow upcoming discussions of modern climate change.
  • How fragile is human life?
    • The Human Family Tree and Human Evolution Timeline interactives allow for thoughtful exploration of this question as they provide visualizations of hominid existence, individual species' lifespans in geologic time, and extinctions. 
    • Teachers can highlight the small amount of time that modern humans have existed in comparison to early humans as well as points in history that modern humans were faced with events that nearly caused extinction and ask students to grapple with the fragility of human life.  
  • Why do we matter as humans in the anthropocene?
    • This question serves as the bridge into the study of ecology and human impacts on the environment and challenges students to deeply consider their importance to their world. 


Aleah Myers
32
 

Teaching with the Smithsonian Learning Lab: A Workshop for George Washington University Faculty and Graduate Students

For the workshop, Teaching with the Smithsonian’s Learning Lab – Millions of Resources at Your Fingertips! (January 8, 2020), this is a collection of digital museum resources and instructional strategies.  It includes a warm-up activity, a close-looking exercise, and supporting materials for participants to create their own teaching collections. 

This collection was co-created with Tess Porter

#GWTeach

Philippa Rappoport
45
 

Immigration

Describe the immigrant's experience using these paintings as inspiration. How are the experiences of immigrants from different times and places alike and different? How relevant is the American dream to the figures in the artwork?

Anne Ruka
5
 

Alaska Native Territories

Alaska is home to over 100,000 Indigenous residents who represent twenty distinctive cultures and languages. The map shows cities, towns and villages where most people live today, but depicts Alaska Native territories as they existed in about 1890, before the main influx of Euro-American settlers. 

Map information is courtesy of Michael Krauss, Igor Krupnik, Ives Goddard and the Alaska Native Language Center (University of Alaska Fairbanks). Map courtesy of the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center.

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
1
 

Ancient India Artifact Examples

Ancient India Artifact Examples
Sarah Shelley
12
 

Ancient Egypt Artifact Examples

Ancient Egypt Artifact Examples
Sarah Shelley
19
 

Ancient China Artifact Examples

A collection of resources about Ancient China and artifact examples.

Sarah Shelley
28
241-264 of 6,091 Collections