Women in the Archives: Sarah T. Hughes

Judge Sarah T. Hughes (1896-1985) is best known for swearing in Lyndon B. Johnson, to the U.S. presidency after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. She began her career as a lawyer in Dallas, when she joined her first firm in 1923. During that time she served three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, as one of the first females elected after women’s suffrage. In 1935, Hughes was appointed the first female district judge in Texas, and was elected seven times after her initial appointment.

In 1961, after being denied nomination to a federal judgeship because of her age, sixty-five, Hughes called on the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club to take on a letter-writing campaign in support of her candidacy, which led to President John F. Kennedy appointing her later that year. Among her most notable decisions as a federal judge were Roe v. Wade, 1970 (the legalization of abortion in the United States), Shultz v. Brookhaven General Hospital, 1969 (equal pay for equal work for women), and Taylor v. Sterrett, 1972 (upgrading prisoner treatment in the Dallas County jail).

Find Hughes’ 1969 oral history here, and her 1979 oral history here.

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