The Chicana Research and Learning Center, the first research and service project in the nation founded and run by and for Mexican-American women, opened in 1974 at the University Methodist Student Center in Austin, after an initial two-year period of fund-raising and program planning in Texas and other states. The CRLC was established by women in the Chicano movement to focus attention on gender issues and roles. To denote its cultural ties and its concern with women's issues, CRLC adopted a logo consisting of an Aztec eagle and the universal symbol for female. Its board of directors was made up of women, and Evey Chapa became its executive director. She was already deeply involved in the movement and had previously worked as the associate director of Juárez Lincoln University.
The CRLC set out to accomplish two goals: to identify the social and educational barriers to Chicanas' progress and to develop Chicana-organized "bilingual-bicultural demonstration models" to overcome these barriers. During the center's two years of operation it identified issues for research and provided technical assistance and training programs to resolve the issues. Its small staff was assisted by many University of Texas at Austin volunteers. Together, the women organized projects in historical research, curriculum development, and human-resources training to address what they defined as the triple oppression faced by Mexican-American women-as women, as members of an ethnic minority, and as women within their culture.
The CRLC maintained communication with Chicanas in other states and inspired members to study their heritage and become involved in the Chicano movement. The CRLC sought scholarly and practical ways to address Chicanas' needs. For instance, its research efforts resulted in La Mujer Chicana: An Annotated Bibliography (1975), which listed 320 documents dealing with twelve areas, including feminism, history, labor, culture, machismo, politics, and health. La Mujer Chicana: A Texas Anthology (1976) was another of the organization's efforts to document Chicana history. Moreover, the CRLC was involved in organizing the first university course on Chicanas in Texas at the University of Texas at Austin in the spring of 1975, which Chapa, the CRLC executive director, taught. The bibliography, anthology, and course were considered a means to awaken intellectuals to the importance of Chicana studies.
The CRLC also encouraged members' political activities by maintaining files on Chicana conferences, leaders, and their other political and social-action efforts in the state. As a result of this work, the CRLC developed links to such public-service agencies as the Civil Rights Commission and the Texas Manpower Commission. The center also provided assistance for a handbook on women's rights with the Women's Law Caucus at the University of Texas Law School and for an anthology on Chicanas for Notre Dame University Press. The CRLC worked independently, however, on one of its most important ventures-the "concientización y desarollo de la mujer" ("consciousness raising for women") training sessions-in which some 500 individuals participated. The Chicana Research and Learning Center closed after two years due to lack of money.
The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.