Selma Burke’s Portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt is What You See on the U.S. Dime!

Selma Burke sculpting a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Selma Burke (born December 31, 1900) was an American sculptor and educator who is best known for her sculpture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which can be seen on the U.S. dime. Burke herself wrote to Roosevelt to request a live sitting, and in 1944, the president generously agreed to have her sculpt his portrait.
Sadly, it is not highly publicized that she is responsible for an image that appears on a coin that millions of Americans use every single day. Even more, many people don't know that she also created many other portraits of prominent African-Americans like Duke Ellington, Mary McLeod Bethune and Booker T. Washington.

As a woman who was very committed to teaching art to others, she established the Selma Burke Art School in New York City in 1946. She later also opened the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Many of her sculptures can still be seen in various museums such as the Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee, the Hill House Center in Pittsburgh, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and more. Ironically, she went on to marry an architect named Herman Kobbe.

Burke lived to be 94 years old. She died on August 29, 1995 of cancer in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where she had lived more than half her life.