Judge Sarah T. Hughes | Oral History

Judge Sarah T. Hughes

Judge Sarah T. Hughes (OH 27 and OH 489)

Sarah Tilghman Hughes moved to Dallas in 1922 and immediately threw herself into local Democratic party politics. Hughes, a graduate of Goucher College and the George Washington University Law School, served three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, and in 1935 Gov. James Allred made her the first woman to serve as a state district judge in Texas by naming her to an open position; she won re-election several times and served on that court until 1960. In 1961 Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and U.S. Senator Ralph Yarbrough convinced President John F. Kennedy to appoint her to a seat on the federal court of the Northern District of Texas, making her the first woman to serve as a federal district judge in the state.

Judge Hughes was among the Dallasites who welcomed President Kennedy to town on November 22, 1963, and was as shocked as anyone else by his assassination. To her surprise, Johnson summoned Hughes to Love Field that afternoon to administer the oath of office aboard Air Force One.

Hughes discussed her political career, her relationship with Johnson, and her memories of the fateful November day in a series of interviews with the UNT Oral History Program.

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Sarah T. Hughes (lower left) administers the oath of office to Lyndon B. Johnson (UNT Special Collections)

Hughes describes the political scene and the influence of the KKK upon her arrival in Dallas
Hughes recalls her reaction to the Kennedy assassination
Hughes recalls details of the swearing-in of President Johnson
Hughes discusses the importance of having women in public service roles