Texas Women: A Celebration of History
In 1976, a former Social Studies teacher named Ann Richards took her family to the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio to instill a love for Texas in her children. After watching a dramatic slide-and-film show designed to illustrate the “universal character” of Texas people, Richards’ daughter Ellen said to her, “Where were all the women?” Richards realized they were missing from the show, and she decided to do something about it.
With Sarah Weddington and four other friends, Richards formed the Texas Women’s History Project in 1978 to research and reveal the women’s history that had been omitted from the show. With Mary Beth Rogers, Ruthe Winegarten, and scores of others, the project did what no one had done before: searched the state for artifacts and documents, discovered stories about 600 women, and produced a museum exhibit, "Texas Women: A Celebration of History," that was displayed at the Institute of Texan Cultures and in four other cities in 1981 and 1982. The project was sponsored by the Texas Foundation for Women's Resources, now Leadership Women.
This exhibit shattered old definitions of Texas history, which Richards had laughingly called “the saga of what men do outdoors.” The documents and the bibliography used to create the exhibit laid the foundation for a whole new field—Texas Women’s History—through which historians continue to discover and explain what it means to have been a woman in Texas.
The exhibit received national attention and was seen by more than two million people when it traveled the state. Leadership Women has also helped in the acquisition of valuable women’s papers and oral histories and produced and disseminated supplemental videos and teachers’ guides statewide.
In 1981, the Texas Foundation for Women's Resources published the exhibit catalog, Texas Women: A Celebration of History, written by Mary Beth Rogers. In 2023, Leadership Women published it on their website as an eBook. The Ruthe Winegarten Foundation is proud to share it here. Special thanks to Audrey Selden, Leadership Women Board Emerita, for her help.