2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the National Women's Conference, held in Houston in November 1977. Over two thousand delegates representing 50 states and 6 territories, as well as 32,000 observers, gathered in Houston, Texas for the historic event, the first federally funded conference charged to assess the status of women across the country and the challenges they faced.

The goal was to create a National Plan of Action for gender equality on 26 planks, issues affecting women including abortion, lesbian rights, minority rights, education, healthcare, and the Equal Rights Amendment. The legacy of the Conference gave rise to increased political activism and membership by women of all backgrounds.

The Conference remains one of the most imaginative and wide-ranging exercises in civic engagement realized in the 20th century. The Spirit of Houston exhibit draws attention to the diversity, ingenuity, and determination of the participants who dared to articulate "what women want."

Materials on display comprise documents and ephemera from the Marjorie Randal National Women's Conference Collection in the Carey Shuart Women's Research Collection. The exhibit was curated by UH students in the Issues in Feminist Research course: Liz Aguilar, Judith Andrade, Hannah Bonner, Mary Garrett, Livia Garza, Sarah Gomez, Kathleen Gonzalez, Paula Hoffman, Xandria Outing, Erica Ray, Nicole Sanchez, Cristal Solares, Liia Thrasher, Nick Tripp, and Demointe Wesley.


Vince Lee, Archivist