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Inventory of the Theodore Dehone Judah Family Collection, 1850-1950
MS 2  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Collection Description
  • Historical Background
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Theodore Dehone Judah Family Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1850-1950
    Collection number: MS 2
    Creator: Judah (Theodore D.), 1828-1863 Judah, Anna Ferona Pierce and various others
    Extent: 1 carton and 1 flat carton
    Repository: California State Railroad Museum Library
    Sacramento, California 95814
    Shelf location: Big Four Building or off-site storage. Please contact the Library in advance of your visit.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the California State Railroad Museum. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Senior Curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the CSRM as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Theodore Dehone Judah Family Collection, MS 2, California State Railroad Museum Library, Sacramento, California.

    Collection Description

    The collection consists of biographical materials, including a handwritten biographical memoir of Theodore Judah, possibly by Anna, business and personal letters to the Judah, business documents, materials pertaining to the California Eastern Extension Railroad, ephemera relating to the family, portraits of Theodore D. Judah, and books from his library.
    The collection is organized by type of material. Letters, biographical items, business papers, photographs, and ephemera are arranged in numbered folders. The books and a packet of pressed flowers are contained in a separate document box.

    Historical Background

    Theodore Dehone Judah was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on March 1, 1826. He studied at Rennselear Polytechnic Institute and entered the engineering profession, working on a number of eastern railroads. While employed as engineer for the Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad, he became acquainted with Colonel Charles L. Wilson, who offered him a position as chief engineer with the Sacramento Valley Railroad in California.
    Judah and his wife, Anna, sailed for California in 1854. Soon after their arrival, Theodore became an ardent promoter of a rail line across the Sierra Nevada. In 1856, the couple returned to the east, where Theodore lobbied unsuccessfully in Washington, D.C., for federal support for a transcontinental railroad. The Judah then returned to California where he continued to promote his plan and conduct surveys in the Sierra.
    In October 1859, Judah was sent by the Pacific Railroad Convention back to Washington to lobby for transcontinental railroad legislation, and again was unsuccessful. After returning to California in 1861 however, he succeeded in convincing Sacramento merchants Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford and Charles Crocker to fund his Sierra Nevada surveys. Judah joined with them in the incorporation of the Central Pacific Railroad in June 1861. In October of that year the Central Pacific sent him back to Washington for a third lobbying attempt. This time Judah succeeded, and on July 1, 1862, President Lincoln signed legislation authorizing construction of a railroad to California. The Judah stayed in the east and Theodore served as the Central Pacific's purchasing agent. They returned to California in January 1863. That September Theodore sold out his interest in the railroad following a dispute with Huntington and the other investors. Judah and his wife then left for the east, where he hoped to raise enough funds to buy the Central Pacific back from his former partners. On the trip across the Isthmus of Panama, he contracted yellow fever, and died in New York City on November 2, 1863. Anna Judah outlived her husband by almost thirty-two years, dying on September 2, 1895.

    Related Collections

    Galloway, John D. "Theodore Dehone Judah: Railroad Pioneer," Civil Engineering, Vol. 2 (October-November 1941), pp. 586-588; 648-651.
    Hinckley, Helen. Rails From the West: A Biography of Theodore D. Judah. San Marino, Calif.: Golden West Books, 1969.
    Wheat, Carl I. "A Sketch of the Life of Theodore D. Judah," California Historical Society Quarterly, (September 1925), pp. 218-269.