Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Josephine Brawley (Mrs. L. C.) Hughes, 1839-1926

By John Bello, Gallery Educator, i.d.e.a. Museum, Mesa, Arizona

Josephine Brawley Hughes (Mrs. L.C.) was born on December 22, 1839, in Meadville Pennsylvania to John R. Brawley and Sarah Haskins. She married Louis Cameron Hughes. Governor W.P Hunt considered her the Mother of Arizona. When Mrs. Hughes traveled to Arizona she traveled by way of rail, steamer, and stagecoach. From Pennsylvania, she was one of the few Anglo residents of Tucson. She traveled to Tucson in 1872 and was appalled by the low standard of living compared to her place of birth. When she arrived in Tucson she became an advocate of the Temperance Movement in the 1870s.

Mrs. Hughes had four children, Gertrude, John, Josephine, and an unnamed child that died at the age of two. She was a teacher in Pennsylvania and Tucson. Mrs. Hughes taught at the first public girls' school in Tucson. She valued education as a mechanism for supporting women's rights.

She wrote and edited articles for the Arizona Star of Tucson while her husband was the eleventh Governor of the Territory of Arizona. She used the newspaper to discuss politics such as removal of Native Americans, temperance, and especially the right to vote for women. While Mrs. Hughes was managing the newspaper she changed the payday from Saturday night to the start of the week to discourage employees from spending their wages on liquor. Frequently opposed by saloonkeepers and some legislators for her views on temperance and women's right to vote, she established numerous suffrage organizations around the territory of Arizona. Through her persistence and support, she was able to outlaw the sale of liquor on Sundays and election days. While in Tucson she was the first president of the Arizona chapter of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). While working with the WCTU Mrs. Hughes found it difficult to change policy regarding alcohol. Mrs. Hughes realized that it was vital for women to have the right to vote to protect their livelihoods. She left the WTCU to focus on women's right to vote.

Mrs. Hughes was a community builder. She helped establish the first Protestant Church in Tucson. She used the church as a forum space to educate the community on the evils of alcohol and the plight of women in Arizona.

In 1891 Mrs. Hughes was an integral figure in establishing the Arizona Suffrage Association. In 1896 her husband left the Territorial Governor office and sold the newspaper in 1907. From 1891 to 1900 she was a key advocate of a woman suffrage bill in the territorial legislature. In the early 1900s, a suffrage bill made it all the way to Governor Alexander Brodie's desk but was vetoed. This is often cited as a betrayal of Brodie, who at first was a supporter of women's suffrage.

But in 1912 with the help of her son, who was a member of the first state senate, Arizona amended the state constitution to allow for women to vote, years before it passed nationally. Arizona's suffrage movement would not have been as successful without the support and fortitude of Mrs. Hughes and her compatriots. The Arizona suffrage movement struggled at its inception because it only catered to elite women. However, around the turn of the 1910s, a reinvigorated suffrage movement propelled women's right to vote into reality.

Her husband passed in 1915 and her son in 1921. With no family left in Arizona, she traveled to California to be closer to her daughter. She died in California in 1926 at 88.

This source is an induction page from the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame for Mrs. Hughes. The source provides information on Mrs. Hughes's birth, family history, and her major contributions to Arizona's women's movement.
This source is part of an index for Mrs. Hughes Husband, L.C. Hughes. The source provides information on Mrs. Hughes death and her title as the "Mother of Arizona."
The source is a journal article from the Arizona Daily Star. The article provides other sources on Mrs. Hughes life in Arizona. The article provides a thorough description of her time in Arizona and her political motivations.
This source is a link to the Arizona State Archives. The link provides an index with a description of the contents of the archival records. The records indicate her time as a teacher, political activist, and her time and an editor of the Tucson Daily Star. The source provides a picture of Mrs. Hughes.
The source is an article about Mrs. Hughes written by C. Louise Boehringer, for the Arizona Historical Review. The article describes her journey to Arizona. The article also provides historical accounts of her efforts establishing a school and church.
The source is a journal article from True West Magazine. The article describes her early life and her major accomplishments regarding the Temperance and Suffragist movements.
The source is a journal article from True West Magazine. The article describes her early life and her major accomplishments regarding the Temperance and Suffragist movements.
This source is an article written by Heidi Osselaer. The article discusses Mrs. Hughes and other suffragist in their fight for women's right to vote.

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