University of Arizona

                                             Special Collections will be closed December 20, 2023 through January 1, 2024 in observance of the University Holiday break.

Louise Foucar Marshall and Tom Marshall Collection

Bank Building on the Southwest Corner of Congress Street and Stone Avenue, Tucson, Arizona, July 15; 1915


Louise Henriette Foucar, the daughter of a wealthy Boston family that had emigrated from Germany, she searched for a place with a better climate to live due to poor health. After stints in El Paso, Texas and Mexico City, in 1890 she moved to Denver, Colorado and earned two degrees at the University of Denver. While in Denver, she developed tuberculosis and heart problems and in 1898 she moved again, this time to the warmer climate and lower elevation of Tucson.

She came to the University of Arizona as a graduate student in the academic year of 1898-1899; she became an instructor the next year and in 1900, at the age of 36, she became the school’s first woman professor. She taught Botany and a host of languages, including English, French, Latin and Spanish, and in 1901 she was named head of the Department of Ancient and Modern Languages.

Louise began to buy and develop properties near the expanding university campus using money inherited from her parents and in 1903, she resigned her teaching position at the university to focus full time on her business pursuits. She also developed a block of businesses across from the university’s main entrance that became Tucson’s first suburban shopping center, University Square. She owned and managed a gift shop located in the square and was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Arizona Board of Regents. Louise created the private, not-for-profit corporation known as Marshall Charitable Foundation in 1930. They created the first private foundation in Arizona, one that would, in Louise’s words, “carry on our work when we are gone.”

Despite Louise’s business success, her marriage to Tom began to deteriorate. There were persistent rumors about his affair with an ex-housekeeper and the mysterious cause of Louise’s prolonged illness. After weeks of tests, doctors finally determined that she had been poisoned. On the night of April 27, 1931 Louise shot her husband four times at point blank range.

Thomas Marshall died three weeks later at a Los Angeles hospital and Louise was charged with first-degree murder. The trial became a media sensation, attracting newspaper coverage and bold headlines around the country. Louise pleaded guilty by reason of temporary insanity, one the very first legal cases to include this novel defense, claiming that she shot her husband because of fear that she was being poisoned. The jury acquitted her on the first-degree murder charge after deliberating less than half an hour.

After her acquittal, Louise rededicated herself to managing her extensive real estate holdings and promoting the work of the new Marshall Charitable Foundation. Her participation in foundation activities continued until her death in 1956 at the age of 92. 

Thomas Keith Marshall, born in Kansas, he ended up at the University of Arizona where he enrolled, at the age of 29, in the preparatory department because of his lack of a high school record. While at the University Tom played on the first football team ever fielded by the University of Arizona and found a job on campus as a gardener and laborer. In 1903 he began working as a maintenance man for Professor Louise Foucar and she soon named him manager for her growing real estate holdings.

In 1904 Tom and Louise were quietly married in El Paso. He served as a delegate to launch the Roosevelt candidacy, and became active in Arizona state politics as a member of the Progressive Party. He became active in the temperance movement and enjoyed traveling all over the state to give talks on both Progressive politics and the temperance movement. In 1915, he wrote and published a 73 page book entitled, Prohibition in Arizona: The First Six Months of Prohibition in Arizona and its Effect Upon Industry, Savings and Municipal Government.

Documents and photographs, 1888-1972 (bulk 1900-1953). This collection is comprised of documents relating to the lives of Louise Foucar Marshall and her husband Tom Marshall. The bulk of the material consists of her personal correspondence and memorabilia, documents relating to Tom’s death and Louise’s trial for his murder in 1931, and to the Marshalls’ real estate holdings. Louise Marshall was instrumental in the development of numerous residential properties and businesses in the area surrounding the University of Arizona. The collection includes personal letters, diaries written by Louise and Tom Marshall, journals and business letters, and books and pamphlets collected by Louise Marshall. Official documents and correspondence relating to the non-profit foundation, the Marshall Charitable Foundation, are also included here. This collection also includes a large number of photographs taken by Tom Marshall of the University of Arizona and the city of Tucson in the early years of the 20th century, which include university buildings, Tucson hospitals and sanitariums, and street scenes. It also includes a T. Roosevelt 1912 Progressive ticket battle flag and a large number of photographs and negatives, including some 4 x 5 glass-plate negatives.