Series 1 - Personal Life & Family


Series 1 - Personal Life & Family


Born in 1918, Nathaniel Colley grew up in Snow Hill, Alabama. He met Sacramento-raised Jerlean Jackson while they were attending Tuskegee Institute, and the two married in 1942. Nathaniel served in the United States Army between 1943 and 1946, entering as a Private and leaving with the rank of Captain. Upon graduating from Yale Law School in 1948, Nathaniel moved to Sacramento, California with his wife and two infant daughters.

Jerlean was the “heart and soul” of Nathaniel’s work. A behind-the-scenes leader, she cared for their five children – four girls and a boy – and was her husband’s advisor, partner, and inspiration. Mr. and Mrs. Colley enjoyed traveling, often mixing work and recreation. They traveled the world together, visiting South America, China, Africa, Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Collection Items

Captain Nathaniel Colley
A black and white photograph of Captain Nathaniel Colley while stationed in the Philippines during World War II, c.1944.

Jerlean (Jackson) Colley
A studio portrait of Jerlean (Jackson) Colley, c.1941.

Colley Family
Colley family photograph, (L to R) Natalie, Jerlean, Sondra, Nathaniel, Ola Marie, Jerlean; taken in their home, 5441 Pleasant Drive, Sacramento, California, May 1956.

Separation Qualification Record
Separation Qualification Record for Captain Nathaniel S. Colley, June 10, 1946.

"Young Attorney Gives Leadership to Colored Community," Colorfornia magazine article, page 17, c. 1954.

The Sacramento Observer
Photograph of Nathaniel and Jerlean Colley celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, as published in the Sacramento Observer of Thursday, May 18, 1967.

The Moscow Conference on Law and Economic Cooperation
Name badge of Jerlean Colley for the Moscow Conference on Law and Economic Cooperation, 1990.

Nathaniel Colley in China
Candid photograph of Nathaniel Colley taken by Jerlean Colley during their trip to China with the American Comparative Law Delegation, May 1987.

Jerlean Colley at Church Event
Jerlean Colley at a church event, Sacramento, California, c. 1941.
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