Transcript of Sarah T. Hughes

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture and education.

When Sarah T. Hughes arrived in Dallas as a young lawyer, in 1922, no firm would hire a woman. Nevertheless, as Hughes put it, she had "an ambition to do something for the state."

Although she is best known for administering the oath of office to Lyndon Johnson aboard Air Force One after John F. Kennedy's assassination, Hughes considered her 1930 election to the Texas Legislature to be her greatest accomplishment.

After serving three terms, Governor James Allred appointed her to the bench of Dallas's Fourteenth District Court, in 1935, making her the state's first female district judge. Although opponents proclaimed that she should be "home washing dishes," she was elected to the same post the following year.

Dismayed that women could not serve as jurors in the very courtroom over which she presided, Hughes played a key role in the passage of a 1954 amendment to the Texas constitution allowing women to serve on juries.

Hughes served six terms on the state bench and earned wide respect as a tough and exacting jurist. President Kennedy appointed her as the first female federal district judge in Texas, in 1961.

Over the course of a fifty-five-year career, Hughes championed equal rights and encouraged women to get involved in politics, illustrating her lifelong belief that "women can indeed be a force in history."

More information about Sarah T. Hughes and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.