Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, presents a concept design following a news conference to announce that scientist Alan Turing will be displayed on the new 50-pound note in Manchester, U.K., on July 15. (Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg)

Throughout history, it has been a tradition in much of the world to feature the country’s political leaders on currency. But in the 21st century, it’s become increasingly common to use bank-notes to celebrate a nation’s history.

And, sometimes, also to confront it.

This week, Britain announced it would place Alan Turing, a World War II code-breaker who is now remembered as a founding father of computer science and artificial intelligence, on the nation’s new 50-pound bill.

Turing is, by any measure, a national hero. But his legacy has for decades had a sad ending that reflected badly upon Britain: Despite his intellect and reputation as a war hero, he died of suicide after he was convicted of engaging in homosexual activity, which was then a criminal offense in the country.

Britain isn’t the first nation to try to correct its history through bank notes. Below are five other examples of currency past, present and future, that do the same.

Canada: Viola Desmond


The Canadian $10 bank note featuring Viola Desmond. (Bank of Canada)

Nine years before Rosa Parks made a similar stand against discrimination in Alabama, in Nova Scotia a woman refused to leave a whites-only section of a movie theater and was sent to jail and fined.

This act of courage by Viola Desmond, a black business executive, ultimately helped end segregation in the province. However, she saw little reward for it in her lifetime: She died alone at the age of 50 in 1965 from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.

Last year, more than 53 years after her death, she replaced Canada’s first prime minister on the $10 bill to become not only the first black person on a Canadian bank note, but also the first woman who wasn’t a royal.

Israel: Albert Einstein


Both sides of Israeli 5 lira note printed in 1968. (iStock)

Albert Einstein, a German-born theoretical physicist, is world-famous for his scientific discoveries. But he was also a political figure, who settled in the United States and became an advocate for Jewish refugees after Adolf Hitler came to power.

Less well known is that Einstein was asked to become the president of the then-nascent state of Israel in 1952 at the instruction of Israel’s first leader, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Einstein, a supporter of Zionism, turned down the offer, explaining he lacked “both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions.”

Einstein died three years later. In his honor, the Israeli government in 1968 released a 5 lira note that included his portrait on one side, which was used until the shekel was introduced in 1980. Though Einstein had visited the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922, he never actually visited the modern state of Israel.

Iraq: A Kurdish farmer


Iraqi 25000 dinar notes. The reverse side is printed in English. (iStock)

During much of the rule of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi dinar notes depicted the dictator. But after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to his ouster, Iraq’s new leaders wanted their bank notes to signify a fresh start. Not only did these bank notes not show Hussein, but one of them depicted a people he had oppressed.

The 25,000 dinar notes first printed in 2003 included a Kurdish farmer on the front. Iraqi Kurds were targeted by Hussein’s “Anfal” campaign in the late 1980s that is thought to have killed 180,000. Even under Hussein, bank notes featuring his likeness were not used in Iraqi Kurdistan (the region used earlier versions of the Iraqi dinar instead).

The removal of dictators and autocrats from currency after their ouster is relatively common: In Libya, Moammar Gaddafi was replaced on some notes by the anti-regime forces that helped overthrow him in 2011.

Mexico: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz


A background filled with 200 peso bills. (iStock)

As a woman born out of wedlock in 17th century New Spain, now Mexico, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz had little opportunity for formal education. However, she persisted in her pursuit of knowledge, became a nun and eventually was one of the New World’s most noteworthy scholars, a poet, and a playwright.

However, Sor Juana was a controversial figure at the time due to her criticism of misogyny. Later in life, she sold her extensive library and began to focus on charity for the poor. In 1695, at the age of 46, she died of the plague while treating her fellow nuns.

She is remembered as not only the greatest writer of the colonial period, but also a major voice for indigenous culture and women’s rights. She currently appears on the 200 Mexican pesos notes, along with the text of her most famous poem, “Foolish Men.”

The United States: Harriet Tubman


Supporters rally with House Democrats to demand that American abolitionist heroine Harriet Tubman's image be put on the $20 bill. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Harriet Tubman, a 19th century black woman who made a daring escape from slavery and took even greater risks to lead hundreds of others to freedom, has been slated to replace President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, on the new $20 bill. Tubman’s appearance on the note was initially timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

When Tubman eventually appears on the bank note, she will be the first black person to have their portrait appear on federally sanctioned bank notes in the United States and only the second woman (Martha Washington, the wife of the first U.S. president, was on $1 silver certificates in the late 1800s).

Though Democrats have complained that the Trump administration has delayed the release of Tubman’s bill, it is still expected to enter circulation by 2030.