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Mordecai Family papers

An inventory of their papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: circa 1980

Biographical History

The Mordecais were a prominent North Carolina family. Alfred Mordecai, the family's most well-known member, was a distinguished engineer and soldier in the U.S. Army. After graduating first in his class at West Point, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1823. In 1825 he became assistant engineer in charge of construction at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and he went on to become assistant to the chief of engineers. He was commissioned captain in the ordnance department upon its creation in 1832. Mordecai commanded two arsenals and became a member of the ordnance board. In 1854 he was commissioned major in the ordnance department. He visited Mexico and the Crimea, and authored numerous technical papers.

On the outbreak of the Civil War, Mordecai decided that he could not fight for either side so he resigned from the Army in May of 1861 and became a teacher of mathematics in Philadelphia. In 1863 he became assistant engineer of the Mexico and Pacific Railroad, and from 1867-1887 was treasurer and secretary of canal and coal companies controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

Alfred Mordecai married Sara Hays in 1836. They had six children, one of whom (Alfred Mordecai, Jr.) fought for the Union during the Civil War.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Mordecai Family Papers consist of approximately forty items of correspondence and a few pieces of memorabilia. These papers date from 1822-1899.

Correspondence contains only two letters from Alfred; his wife Sara is the most frequent correspondent. Other members of the Mordecai family are also represented. An index to the correspondence appears at the end of this finding aid.

Memorabilia includes newspaper clippings on Alfred Mordecai's death, a marriage certificate, and a photograph of Sara Hays Mordecai. Also present is a legend of a map of St. Petersburg, Russia, autographed by Alfred Mordecai.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically. An index to the correspondence appears at the end of this finding aid.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings

Genres and Forms


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Mordecai Family Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Some material purchased, 1963; some transferred from Kohen Collection, 1969.

Table of Contents



Selected index to correspondence


Selected index to correspondence

Index is alphabetical by sender.