Collection Number: SC#109
Fred G. Hughes Collection
Frederick George “Fred” Hughes Jr. was born on August 16, 1915 to Fred G. Hughes Sr. and Mary Jane (McKay) Hughes in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fred Jr. had two sisters Helen L. Hughes and Barbara A. Hughes. Fred G. Hughes Sr. was employed by the legal department of the Pennsylvania Railroad until his death in 1922, Fred Jr. was six years old at the time. Barbara A. Hughes Mitchell, Fred Jr.’s Oldest Sister, died the next year in 1923. Mary Jane Hughes was then left in charge of caring for Fred Jr. on her own until her death in 1930, Fred Jr. would have been only fifteen at the time. Fred Jr. then went to live with his sister Helen. He graduated from Central High School in 1933. Hughes enrolled in the fall at the University of Michigan extension division in Grand Rapids for two years. Dr. Arthur Henry Rolph Fairchild, the uncle of Hughes and then chairman of the English Department at the University of Missouri, encouraged Fred to attend the University of Missouri. Mr. Hughes worked in the campus bookstore to pay for his schooling, earned an AB in Arts and Sciences, and eventually an LL.B. (Bachelor’s in Law) from the M.U. Law School. While attending the University of Missouri, he was a member of the Mystical Seven, Phi Delta Theta social fraternity and Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. He was also what would be now known as the class clown because he always had a funny story to tell.
After graduation in 1939 he practiced law in Joplin in the law office of Robert E. Seiler. In 1941, a friend recruited him into the FBI. Hughes served in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., and various other cities before becoming the director of the Green Bay, Wisconsin, offices.
On January 2, 1942 Fred Hughes married Miss Rebekah Blair of Joplin. Miss Blair was the Daughter of Clay Cowgill Blair of Joplin and Miss Rebekah Harris of Columbia. Mrs. Rebekah (Becky) Blair Hughes was a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School, which is where Hughes first met her. They had two daughters Sallie Elizabeth Hughes Taylor (who married Gregory Hobbs Taylor) and Mary Jane Hughes. At the conclusion of the war Hughes returned to Joplin to continue to practice law. Hughes first became connected with the newspapers in Joplin when he was retained to negotiate a newsprint contract. The Joplin Globe had been experiencing union difficulties with the firm supplying the paper for newsprint, an item of considerable importance to any newspaper. Hughes spent fourteen months traveling the United States and Canada contacting all major newsprint manufacturers. Hughes also went to Washington D.C. to testify before a congressional committee where he gave them firsthand information on the shortage of newsprint. A contract was secured with Abitibi Paper Company in Toronto, Canada. He negotiated a settlement and continued to do labor-relations work for the publishers, eventually joining the company full-time as assistant to the general manager in 1951. He became general manager in 1956. Hughes later would become the president of the Joplin Globe in 1964.
Under the direction of Mr. Hughes the Joplin Globe had major changes. In July of 1965, a Monday morning edition was added to the Globe making it a seven day newspaper. Hughes felt the readers of the paper wanted a Monday edition, and advertising had increased to the point where the expense involved could safely be underwritten. The new morning edition also involved additions to the news staff and mechanical departments of the paper. The Sunday Globe featured “show times”, which was produced and an edited supplement that began in the spring of 1965. This sixteen page tabloid offered local entertainment, book reviews, record and travel columns, and television and movie features. Also in 1965, the Joplin News Herald was completely revamped typographically. It got a new headline type and layout format plus the addition of an editorial page. Under the guidance of Mr. Hughes, the Saturday editions of the Globe and News Herald were consolidated into one edition. The morning Globe increased its district news coverage and out of state news coverage. Considering Joplin is in the 4-state area (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas), both the Globe and News Herald served the districts in these states. Hughes made the Globe news coverage to make it more of a district paper.
The news and editorial columns of the papers were used to inform people of the value a four year college could have on the area. Under Hughes’ guidance, Joplin Junior College was separated from the Joplin School system and organized as Missouri Southern College. Mr. Hughes headed a voluntary money campaign which was organized. Three hundred thousand dollars was pledged by local businessmen to purchase a campus site on a two hundred and sixty-five acre estate east of town.
Mr. Hughes served on the boards of several civic and business organizations. He was active with his father in law Cowgill Blair Sr., in the organization of the Mid-continent Telecasting, Inc., and its television station, KOAM. He served as director and secretary of the corporation since its beginning in 1954. He served two terms as president of the Missouri Good Roads Association. In 1965, he was elected President of the Inland Daily Press Association, in Chicago, Illinois, the largest regional press organization in the country at the time, and he served as chairman of the board. He was one of the original founders of the Missouri Southern State College and served as Chairman of the Citizens Committee, which worked in cooperation with the Missouri Legislature in establishing the school. He was appointed by Governor Warren E. Hearnes was a member of the first Board of Regents of Missouri Southern in 1964 and served as president of both the Board of Trustees and Board of Regents for the school. Hughes served as vice-chairman of the Missouri State Reorganization Commission. This Commission, over a two year period of study, developed a model bill to reorganize the executive branch of state government. The model bill was used by the state legislature in drafting the reorganizational legislation, which was passed by the General Assembly on February 1, 1974. He served several terms as a director of the Joplin Chamber of Commerce and was the president of that organization. He was also a director of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Hughes was also a member of the Joplin Rotary Club, Twin Hills Golf and Country Club, Joplin club, the First Presbyterian Church and the president of the local YMCA.
When asked what he considered the main function of the newsman to be, Hughes replied, “It is to keep the area aware of what’s going on through its news columns. It gets back to basics… we live in a democracy and the population has to be kept informed. At the same time, a good newspaper has to lead its community. It has to be in the forefront in leading ideas and supporting programs that are to the benefit of the community. The general public will look to a good newspaper for leadership and advice about how they stand on a particular issue. In our own case, we don’t try to tell people how to vote. But we present both sides of the issues; give backgrounds on candidates involved so that the people can make their own decisions on a given issue or a given candidate. However, there are occasions when we feel strongly enough about a particular candidate to support him.” On the issue of press censorship, he ventured, “The accent has been placed on the wrong place. The press itself is not what’s important - there are only 1750 daily newspapers in the entire country. What’s important is the proper dissemination of news. A Newspaper is merely a media for presenting information just as is radio or television. Too much emphasis has been placed on the rights of the news rather than the rights of the people. Any newspaper can exist on bland news and advertising, but then, they are not getting the job done for the people.”
Mr. Hughes believed a newspaper that merely prints news and advertising is only half a newspaper. In order for the newspaper to fulfill its true function, Mr. Hughes believed it must become actively involved in all issues and projects which affect public welfare both good and bad. Mr. Hughes says the papers should support issues that are good for the community and editorially oppose those which are against the best interest of the community. The globe and the News Herald have followed this policy. In the years following his ideas the papers became primarily responsible for a successful urban renewal program and a highly developed road program. The news and editorial columns of the papers were used to inform people of the value a four year college could have on the area.
In later Years Fred Hughes would be remembered for by Missouri Southern in the form of the Football stadium being named after him. He dedicated most of his life to many different organizations. Any problem that came his way he would handle it with tact to prevent unneeded arguments. After he retired he became what you might call a world traveler, but after dedicating so much of his time to so many things he deserved a vacation, it is surprising he had any free time at all. Mr. Hughes was a very big Civil War buff. He had subscriptions to historical articles about the war, served on the council for the Civil War Roundtable, collected books and newspapers about the war, and he himself wrote many papers about the Civil War and those who were involved. Before and after Hughes retired he went to many Battlefield sites all over the U.S. Fred Hughes died on October 7, 1996 having lived a full and very happy life surrounded by a large family and large friend group.
The Fred G. Hughes collection contains 9 boxes of Fred G. Hughes’ personal documents and correspondence as well as photographs and other items. The first two boxes of this collection highlight Hughes’ work at on the Board of Regents of Missouri Southern from 1964 through 1981. The documents in these boxes range from 1961 through 1987.
Boxes 3 through 7 of this collection organize Fred G. Hughes’ personal documents relating to various organizations. These documents are organized in alphabetical order based on the name of the organization.
Box 8 contains Fred G. Hughes’ personal correspondence with the people he was acquainted with. These letters and cards are organized in alphabetical order based on the names of the people corresponded with.
Box 9 contains all documents relating to Fred G. Hughes’ family and family history. This includes biographies of both Fred G. Hughes and his wife Rebekah Blair Hughes, as well as letters from family members and a detailed family history.
Fred G. Hughes
Donated in 2004 by Sarah Hughes, daughter of Fred G. Hughes.
In the Fall of 2020 Archives intern Lena Brewer processed and created an exhibit for the Fred G. Hughes Collection. View the exhibit at the link below!
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