Elizabeth Nelligan Hughes

1870 – 1953

President of the Police Matron’s Benevolent Association. Matron of the 4th Precinct Station. Though she was a “matron” the newspaper sometimes referred to her as a “policewoman”. Like many matrons in other cities, she was a working class widow, by 1900 at age 29 she was a police matron and widow with 4 children, the daughter of Irish immigrants.

One of her roles was investigating theatres to make sure they were following laws. She also investigated fortune tellers, witchcraft etc. She also cared for various people who needed it, for example, a woman who attempted suicide in 1913, was cared for by Mrs. Hughes at her house at 405 S 11th St.

The Newark News states that she became “the first policewoman” in 1913 or 1914. Though in 1918 Margaret Dugan, Justina Eller and Etta Fallon are also called the first policewomen and Hughes is listed as a “Matron” in 1929 and 1930.

She is retired by 1940. Grew up in Jersey City.


Officers elected at Meeting of Police Matrons Benevolent AssociationThe Newark Star Nov 10, 1909

Mrs. Elizabeth Hughes Will Probably Be First Policewoman of NewarkNewark Evening Star Jan 29, 1914

License Denied Movie TheatreNewark Evening Star Apr 2, 1914

Saturn Mercury and Nenus..” Saturday Sept 19, 1914

Sorry Woman Did Not Kill Herself” Newark Evening Star Aug 1, 1913

Other articles at Chronicling America.

City Directories

Census records

Hughes, Elizabeth, Newark News Morgue, Newark Public Library