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Richard J. Hughes papers

Identifier: Mss-0003

Scope and Contents

The Richard J. Hughes papers contain the professional and personal papers of Richard J. Hughes from his time as Governor of New Jersey and Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and from his other political and professional activities. Additional materials relating to the former governor may be found at the New Jersey State Archives.

The majority of the collection dates from Mr. Hughes' time as Governor of New Jersey, 1961-1969, and includes correspondence, speeches and public statements, schedules of appearances and events, subject files, scrapbooks, photographs, and ephemera. Materials from Mr. Hughes' tenure as Chief Justice include correspondence, subject files, speeches and public statements, scrapbooks, photographs, and ephemera.

There is also a substantial amount of material dealing with the American Bar Association's Commission on Correctional Facilities and Service, with which Mr. Hughes was involved, and some material on the Democratic National and New Jersey State Committees. The collection also includes a smaller amount of personal materials as well as personal ephemera.


  • 1956 - 1979

Conditions Governing Access

Photographic negatives may only be viewed with the assistance of the archivist.

This collection includes audio-visual materials. Access copies of audiotapes, audio cassette tapes, video cassette tapes, film reels, or other audio-visual materials may need to be ordered prior to on-site research. Please contact us to inquire about access to audio-visual materials.

Otherwise, materials are available for research at the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center. Advance appointments are required for the use of archival materials.

Conditions Governing Use

All materials available in this collection (unless otherwise noted) are the property of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center and Seton Hall University, which reserves the right to limit access to or reproduction of these materials. Reproduction of materials or content is subject to United States copyright restrictions and may be subject to federal or state privacy regulations. Permission to publish exact reproductions must be obtained from the Director of the Archives and Special Collections Center.

Biographical / Historical

Richard Joseph Hughes was born 10 August 1909, in Florence, N.J., the son of Richard P. Hughes, mayor of Burlington. Richard J. Hughes attended St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia and the New Jersey Law School, now a part of Rutgers University. He became involved in politics, working on Frankiln D. Roosevelt's campaigns in the 1930s and serving as Mercer County Democratic chairman in the 1940s. After working for the United States Attorney for New Jersey, the Mercer County Court, the Superior Court, where he headed a study that led to revisions in the state's system for dealing with juvenile offenders, he was appointed to the Appellate Division of Superior Court in 1957 before leaving to enter private practice.

In 1961 Mr. Hughes was selected as the Democratic party candidate for the office of Governor of New Jersey. He defeated Republican Secretary of Labor James P. Mitchell on a platform that focused on state needs. Once in office, Mr. Hughes pushed a bond measure that was defeated and introduced legislation to create a state income tax, which was delayed until after the next gubernatorial election. In Richard Hughes' 1965 campaign, running against Republican State Senator Wayne Dumont, taxation was a major issue, as was the controversial statement by a Rutgers professor on the war in Vietnam. After winning re-election, Mr. Hughes again focused on income tax legislation, which was narrowly defeated.

After leaving office in 1970, Richard Hughes worked with the American Bar Association before being named Chief Justice of the New Jersey State Supreme Court by Governor William T. Cahill in 1974. As Chief Justice, Mr. Hughes handed down decisions with far-reaching impact, including stepping into the struggle between Governor Brendan T. Byrne and the state legislature regarding a state income tax, forcing a decision that was made in favor of the tax, and deciding in favor of the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan in their case to remove their comatose daughter from life support, expanding the rights of individuals or their guardians to refuse medical treatment.

Mr. Hughes was also a delegate for New Jersey to the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and 1972.

Richard Hughes married Miriam McGregory in 1935 and the couple had four children. Miriam Hughes died in 1950. In 1954, he met Elizabeth Sullivan Murphy, a widow with three children; they married in 1955 and had three children. Several of Richard Hughes' children and step-children have become involved in New Jersey law and politics, including Michael Murphy, a prominent lobbyist who was previously the Morris County Prosecutor; John Hughes, a Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey; Brian M. Hughes, the elected County Executive of Mercer County.

Richard J. Hughes died 7 December 1992 in Boca Raton, Florida.


41 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection is organized into ten series:

  1. Series I. Correspondence, 1961-1979
  2. Series II. Speeches, statements, and messages, 1961-1979
  3. Series III. Schedules of appearance, 1961-1979
  4. Series IV. Subject Files, 1956-1979
  5. Series V. American Bar Association Commission on Correctional Facilities and Services, 1970-1974
  6. Series VI. Democratic Committees: National and State, 1970-1974
  7. Series VII. Personal Papers, 1948-1979
  8. Series VIII. Photographs, 1961-1979
  9. Series IX. Scrapbooks and news clippings, 1961-1979
  10. Series X. Ephemera and plaques, 1961-1979

The bulk of this collection contains various materials related to the life and career of Richard J. Hughes, with a focuse on his tenures as Governor of New Jersey and Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The first series, Correspondence, 1961-1979 contains a series of personal and professional correspondence spanning the greater part of Hughes' professional career.

Speeches, statements, and messages, 1961-1979 includes prepared materials delivered or published by Hughes.

Schedules of appearence, 1961-1970 collects Hughes' intineraries spanning his time in office as Governor of New Jersey.

Subject Files, 1956-1979 contains documents and materials thematically related to one another by subject.

American Bar Association Commission on Correctional Facilities and Services, 1970-1974 includes items related to Hughes' work with the ABA.

Democratic Committees: National and State, 1970-1974 collects material relating to Hughes' work the Democratic National and New Jersey State Committees.

Personal Papers, 1948-1979 contains various materials of a personal origin, nature, or subject.

Photographs, 1961-1979 includes photographs of Hughes with several notable political figures over the course of his entire career.

Scrapbooks and news clippings, 1961-1979 collects various noteworthy headlines concerning Hughes.

Ephemera and plaques, 1961-1979 contains plaques and other ephemera collected by or awarded to Hughes.

Preservica Internal URL

Preservica Public URL

Richard J. Hughes Papers
Sean Cureton * Collection was reprocessed in 2022 and the original order from that processing was maintained. *
June 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the The Monsignor Field Archives & Special Collection Center Repository

Archives, Walsh Library
400 South Orange Ave
South Orange NJ 07079 US