History Written by the Victors…

By Julia Flynn Siler

For a sobering instance of history being written by the victors, consider the death of Jane Lathrop Stanford.

As co-founder and primary benefactor of Stanford University, Jane died of strychnine poisoning in 1905 in Waikiki. For nearly a century, the fact of her murder was successfully covered up.

The key figure involved in that cover-up was the university’s first president, David Starr Jordan. He was the victor in shaping how history undervalued Jane’s contribution as a leading educational philanthropist over the next hundred years or so.

But now, we’re at a moment in time when many institutions are examining their histories. And Jane, at long last, may finally get her due — as the full story of her life and death come to light.

North 24th member Julia Flynn Siler wrote about the still-unsolved mystery of her death for the summer issue of Alta Journal and discussed the story on  July 7th in an Alta Live online event.



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