Texas Woman’s University, the nation’s largest university system focused on women, offers degree programs in the liberal arts and science, nursing, health sciences, business and education.
Best known for arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Roe v. Wade case, Sarah Weddington had a trailblazing career as a lawyer, policymaker and academic with a primary goal of advancing women’s issues.
In a career that spanned five decades, Weddington produced and collected mountains of documents and records. Now, her historical papers, pictures and other artifacts are part of a new permanent collection at Texas Woman’s University.
“Sarah Weddington spent her entire career fighting for women’s rights”
“Sarah Weddington spent her entire career fighting for women’s rights and ensuring women had opportunities not just to sit at the table, but to sit at the head of the table,” TWU Chancellor Carine M. Feyten said. “She was an exceptional leader and embodied the pioneering spirit that defines Texas Woman’s.”
The donated documents in the collection span Weddington’s career as an attorney, legislator, public speaker and professor. Among the items are photographs, first edition books, awards and other materials from Weddington’s life, including her time serving in the Texas Legislature, developing arguments in Roe v. Wade, working in the White House and representing the United States on an international scale.
“Sarah Weddington had an interesting and productive career, and her influence as a lawyer, legislator, lecturer, women’s advocate and leader had remarkable reach. This collection provides a trove of interesting artifacts that will give researchers a veritable front-row seat to historical events affecting women’s issues,” said Mary Anne Alhadeff, executive director and chief officer of the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership.
The collection is currently undergoing archival processing and is available to the public for research purposes. Several pieces from the collection are on display as part of the Woman’s Collection on the 2nd floor of TWU’s Blagg-Huey Library on the university’s Denton campus. Additionally, selected offerings will be available online in January 2023 in the university’s special collections digital archives.
While Weddington gained international attention for presenting arguments in the landmark Supreme Court case, she was devoted to creating opportunities for women. Her life was full of firsts: the first woman elected to the Texas Legislature representing Travis County; at 26, the youngest person to present arguments before the highest U.S. court; and the first female general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. President Jimmy Carter named Weddington as his special assistant for women’s issues. Later, she became a distinguished professor at Texas Woman’s University, lecturing about her passion to make a difference.
“She always had a heart and mind for working people, for women in particular, and devoted her life to that,” said Phyllis Bridges, a TWU English professor and lifelong friend of Weddington’s who was instrumental in bringing the Weddington Collection to the Jane Nelson Institute.