As part of a series honoring women in history, the U.S. Mint will release a new quarter in mid-August depicting early 1900s South Texas journalist-activist Jovita Idar.
Often associated with her early life in Laredo, she lived her last 25 years in San Antonio and is buried here.
The coin, following one released in June with the image of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, is the ninth installment of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program. Idar “was a Mexican American journalist, activist, teacher and suffragist,” according to its description of the coin.
The quarter will depict a portrait of George Washington sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser, with an image of Idar on the reserve side, with her hands clasped. Inscribed within the outline of her figure are key words and phrases, including “Teacher,” “Nurse,” and “La Crónica” — her family-owned newspaper.
The new quarter, designed and sculpted by U.S. Mint artist John P. McGraw, is set for release Aug. 15.
Jovita Idar was born in 1885 in Laredo, one of eight children of Jovita and Nicasio Idar. She taught school in Los Ojuelos, a small community in Webb County, but was repulsed by conditions there. She began writing for her father’s Spanish-language newspaper, La Crónica, which sought progress for Mexican Americans in Texas, taking on issues such as inferior housing and schools, poor working conditions and civil rights violations.
As president of the Liga Femenil Mexicanista, or League of Mexican Women, she focused on education and helping the poor. She went to Mexico to tend to soldiers wounded in its revolution. She later wrote for El Progreso, published in Laredo, and worked as a volunteer nurse with the American Red Cross during World War I.
She’s perhaps most famous for standing up to the Texas Rangers in 1914. The rangers showed up one day following publication of an editorial criticizing U.S. occupation of Veracruz. Idar stood at the front door and denied them entry. The rangers left but returned the next day when Idar wasn’t there. They ransacked the office and destroyed the printing press. The encounter was illustrated as a Google Doodle in 2020.
I will admit, I knew nothing of Jovita Idar before reading this story. I’m glad to learn about her and I’m glad she will be celebrated on the quarter, along with other women of note. I’ve done my share of coinblogging over the years, I enjoy hearing about innovative new designs and seeing them in the wild, though that’s been much less frequent since the pandemic; for better or worse, I don’t use cash that much these days, so I don’t get to receive new-to-me quarters in my change all that often. I may need to make some effort on that front. Anyway, enjoy the new quarters. I’m happy the Mint is still doing this stuff.