The Mysterious Death of Jane Stanford

The Mysterious Death of Jane Stanford

Book - 2003
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Jane Stanford, the co-founder of Stanford University, died in Honolulu in 1905, shortly after surviving strychnine poisoning in San Francisco. The inquest testimony of the physicians who attended her death in Hawaii led to a coroner’s jury verdict of murder—by strychnine poisoning. Stanford University President David Starr Jordan promptly issued a press release claiming that Mrs. Stanford had died of heart disease, a claim that he supported by challenging the skills and judgment of the Honolulu physicians and toxicologist. Jordan’s diagnosis was largely accepted and promulgated in many subsequent historical accounts.In this book, the author reviews the medical reports in detail to refute Dr. Jordan’s claim and to show that Mrs. Stanford indeed died of strychnine poisoning. His research reveals that the professionals who were denounced by Dr. Jordan enjoyed honorable and distinguished careers. He concludes that Dr. Jordan went to great lengths, over a period of nearly two decades, to cover up the real circumstances of Mrs. Stanford’s death.

Book News
When Stanford (1828-1905), co-founder of Stanford University, died suddenly in Honolulu, doctors and toxicologists determined she had been murdered by strychnine poisoning. The University's president denigrated the Hawaiian specialists and declared she had died of heart failure. His view has been generally accepted. Cutler (neurology and neurological science, Stanford U.) reviews the medical record and concludes that she was in fact poisoned. He does not name the murderer. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Stanford, Calif. : Stanford General Books, 2003
ISBN: 9780804747936
Characteristics: x, 161 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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Oct 06, 2017

A thorough account of the death of Jane Stanford which includes not just the cause, but the aftermath, in which the true reason for her death was disregarded because of the Stanford University President's stubborn belief that she was just another hysterical woman. Sadly, that opinion still exists; years after this book was published, writer Richard Rayner dismissed her death as caused by her own hysterical behavior. What remains unresolved is who put the strychnine into the bicarbonate of soda; who killed her and why will probably never be learned. It's sad that a strong, smart woman could so easily lose her life without consequence, and the investigators in Hawaii, who did such an outstanding job of isolating the strychnine, attacked and demeaned for their findings. This book is a fascinating and well-written history and deserves to be more well-known.


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