Smithsonian Exhibit on Women Achievers Across Three Centuries to Feature Coatesville’s Rebecca Lukens

Kimberly McGuane
Image of Rebecca Lukens via Wikipedia.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will feature Coatesville’s Rebecca Lukens in its new display that highlights women achievers across three centuries.

“The Only One in the Room” will open on Nov. 20 as part of the museum’s business history exhibition, “American Enterprise.” It will be on view through November 2021.

The display will explore the stories of eight women who made a mark in their industries. Each story is presented through an image, along with one artifact representing her achievements.

Led by the Quaker belief of equality between the sexes, Lukens spent most of her childhood learning about her family’s steel business in Coatesville, the Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory.

When she inherited the business in 1825, she found the operation in financial distress.

But through strong leadership, she managed to turn it around and make it a success. She even managed to keep the factory afloat during a major recession in 1837.

Her image in the exhibit is accompanied by a Bank of Chester Valley $10 note, which features an illustration of the inside of the family mill.

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