Scope and Content
Title: John Waldo Thompson Scrapbook,
Date (inclusive): 1889-1928
Collection number: Mss122
John Waldo Thompson
Extent: 0.3 linear ft.
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], John Waldo Thompson Scrapbook, Mss122, Holt-Atherton Department
of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
John Waldo Thompson (1841-c1930) was born in Michigan and worked all of his adult life as
a telegrapher. Thompson was one of the gang that helped to string the first
transcontinental telegraph line. He began work in Omaha (1861), made his way to Ruby
Valley, Nev. (1863), Petaluma, Calif. (1863), various cities in Oregon (1864-1865), and
Nevada (1866), Marysville and Yreka, Calif. (1866), before finally settling in San Diego
(1874-1909). Thompson was the first manager of the San Diego Western Union office and, in
the early 1880s, he installed the first telephone in that city. He married there, and one
of his daughters, Emma, enjoyed brief fame as an opera diva in southern California during
the last decade of the nineteenth century. In 1909, J.W. Thompson took his final post in
San Francisco. His wife, Hortense Eubanks Thompson, died there in 1928. When Thompson
retired in 1923, he was the oldest telegrapher in the United States.
Scope and Content
Thompson's scrapbook, reveals an interest in California, Nebraska and Oregon local
history, the history of American telegraphy, and an active involvement with a
considerable extended family. Most of the materials to be found here are newspaper
clippings, although the scrapbook also contains a few photographs and pieces of
correspondence. Few items are dated or identified by source, but internal evidence
enables one to estimate their time of collection as extending from about 1889 through