Crowdfunding Before the Technology Age

In 1921, 23 years after Marie Curie discovered radium, she realized she didn’t have enough radium to continue her research and couldn’t afford to buy any more. A group of American women led a fundraising campaign to buy one gram of radium for Curie. At the time, one gram of radium was $100,000 — $1.3 million today. Although the sum was astronomical, the Radium Fund was able to raise it in less than a year. In fact, the American Association of University Women was so successful that it raised an additional $56,413.54, which Curie ended up putting in a trust for her daughter so she could continue Curie’s research. On May 20, 1921, Marie Curie traveled to the United States, where she was presented with the radium by President Warren G. Harding (pictured above with Curie). Ironically, Curie died of aplastic anemia caused by exposure to radiation.