Archives of the Women of the Southwest 25th Anniversary Celebration

June 8, 2018

On Sunday, March 11, 2018, the Advisory Board of the Archives of the Women of the Southwest celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the board with a celebration at the DeGolyer Library at SMU. The Advisory Board was created in 1993 to:

  • Promote the visibility and scholarly value of archival material related to women in the Southwestern regional area of the United States
  • Encourage the use of the archives as an important resource for research
  • Advise on collection development for the archives
  • Coordinate fundraising to assure continuance of an endowment sufficient to maintain the archival collection
  • Raise public awareness of the need of the archives


Elisabet Ney’s Formosa Studio, ca. 1892-1907. Part of Edmund Montgomery and Elizabet Ney papers.

Major accomplishments over the 25-year life of the board include The Remember the Ladies! Campaign which raised $1,000,000 to endow an archivist position dedicated solely to supporting the collection.


The Archives of Women of the Southwest includes records of notable women leaders who acted as pioneers in social and political reform movements, businesswomen who paved the way for future generations to succeed in the workforce, influential women in the arts and voluntary service, as well as papers recording the daily lives of women in the 19th and 20th centuries.


At the event marking the 25th anniversary, Russell Martin, Director of the DeGolyer Library, read from love letters between teenagers Mattabel Lovett and Richard Spiller, 1903-1904, in Gray County and Lipscomb County, Texas. Mattabel’s correspondence was intelligent and lively, reflecting an independent spirit as well as the cultural attitudes of the time and place.  The collection of Lovett’s letters is one of over 300 accessions in the Archives of Women of the Southwest. The Archives is well positioned to collect, preserve, and provide access to even more primary materials in women’s history over the next 25 years.



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June 6, 1968 – June 6, 2018: the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy

June 6, 2018

“Barefoot and Boss.” Barefoot Sanders and Robert F. Kennedy, Dallas, Nov. 14, 1961. Andy Hanson photograph, DeGolyer Library, SMU






Fifty years ago, like his brother President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy – Bobby – was murdered by an assassin’s bullet.  The year 1968 was a tempestuous time in America. The Vietnam War continued, and the anti-war movement peaked. Martin Luther King had been killed earlier in the year, igniting riots across the country. President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to seek a second term in the upcoming election. Robert Kennedy, former U.S. Attorney General, stepped up to a swell of support, running for national office. He was perceived by some to be the only man in American politics capable of uniting the people. He was beloved by minorities for his integrity and devotion to the civil rights cause.



“For a whole generation of progressive political activists and journalists, there was a glimmer of something different in RFK than the more conventional politics of his brothers Jack and Ted — an ability to both put together a mind-bending coalition of minority and white-working-class voters that would blow up the racial politics the GOP was beginning to aggressively embrace by 1968 and to keep the fraying New Deal majority alive.” New York Magazine, June 5, 2018


Quotes from Robert F. Kennedy:

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” 

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

The picture above is from the Andy Hanson photographs collection. Hanson worked for the Dallas Times Herald for thirty years until it closed in 1991. He photographed and actively documented the theater, opera, musical, and social events in the city. Included in the collection are many photographs and negatives of famous, high profile, politicians, celebrities, and newsworthy people in Dallas.

For some Hanson images online, see:


Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs, DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Sarah T. Hughes, Only Woman to Ever Have Sworn in a U.S. President

April 23, 2018

Judges Sarah T. Hughes and T. Whitfield Davidson, ca. 1970. By Andy Hanson

Sarah  T. Hughes (1896 – 1985), American lawyer and federal judge, was a woman of firsts. She moved to Dallas in 1922 with her husband, George E. Hughes whom she had met in law school. George was able to find a job quickly, but no law firm would hire Sarah. Eventually, a small firm gave her rent-free space in exchange for her services as receptionist. As her practice grew and became more successful, Hughes became increasingly active in local women’s organizations. She became involved in politics, first being elected in 1930 to three terms in the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat.

In 1935, she accepted an appointment as a state judge from Governor James Allred for the Fourteenth District Court in Dallas, becoming the state’s first woman district judge. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed her to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. She was the first woman to serve as a federal district judge in Texas. She was the only female judge appointed by Kennedy, and only the third woman ever to serve on the Federal bench.

Hughes was concerned over the ineligibility of women in Texas to serve on juries even though they had the right to vote. She coauthored a proposed amendment that would allow women on juries in Texas, but the bill failed. Due in to part to Hughes’s work, Texas women secured the right to serve on juries in 1954. Hughes was a member of the three-judge panel that first heard the case of Roe v. Wade; the panel’s decision was subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court.

President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy. By Andy Hanson

On November 22, 1963, she was called upon to administer the oath of office to Lyndon B. Johnson after President Kennedy’s assassination. According to Barefoot Sanders, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas at the time, “LBJ called Irving Goldberg from the plane and asked, ‘Who can swear me in?’ Goldberg called me, and I said, ‘Well, we know a federal judge can.’ Then I got a call from the President’s plane, with the command ‘Find Sarah Hughes.’ I reached her at home and said, ‘They need you to swear in the Vice President at Love Field. Please get out there.’ She said, ‘Is there an oath?’ I said, ‘Yes, but we haven’t found it yet.’ She said, ‘Don’t worry about it; I’ll make one up.’ She was very resourceful, you know. By the time she got to the airplane, someone had already called it into the plane. We quickly realized that it is in the Constitution.” Hughes recalled, “I embraced Mrs. Kennedy and vice president. We didn’t say anything; there really wasn’t anything to say.” Hughes leaned toward Jackie and told her she’d loved her husband. After the oath, Johnson said, “Let’s be airborne,” and the plane got on its way. Hughes was the first and only woman to have sworn in a U.S. President.

Lyndon B. Johnson Hemmed in by Crowd, Dallas, 1960. By Andy Hanson



Hughes continued her work as a federal judge until 1982.

It is also worthwhile noting that there is an SMU connection to Hughes. SMU’s Underwood Law Library has a reading room dedicated to Judge Hughes, the Sarah Tilghman Hughes Reading Room with a plaque in her honor, “In recognition of the outstanding accomplishments of Judge Hughes as an attorney, judge and activist for civil and human rights….”









Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs

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