University of Massachusetts Amherst

Through The Photographer's Eyes: The Diana Mara Henry Collection (20th Century Photographer)

New York State Women's Meeting and the First National Women's Conference

In 1977, Congresswoman Bella Abzug of NYC became the third chair of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year, following the service of Jill Ruckleshaus and Betty Athanasakos, two Republican women who served under President Gerald Ford after he signed the legislation establishing the commission.  Henry had been photographing Abzug's campaigns since 1972, and Abzug asked her to be the official photographer both for the New York State Women's Meeting, one of the 50 state meetings that preceded the national conference, and for the conference itself, held November 17-19 in Houston, Texas.

Jean Stapleton, who played the "stifled" Edith Bunker on the sitcom All in the Family, was a spokesperson for the New York State Meeting, as well as a Commissioner who took an active role in Houston. Journalist Melba Tolliver, who later referred to herself as an "Accidental Anchorwoman," was photographed pencil gripped between her teeth, writing her report of the New York State Meeting.

In addition to her photographs, Henry also collected and saved materials that document the activities of the state and national meetings. Featured here are the remarks of then First Lady Rosalyn Carter and the rules of order from the Federal Register for this first and so far only federally-funded national conference for, by, and about women.