For an example of history being written by the victors, consider the case of Jane Lathrop Stanford, the victim of one of California’s most puzzling unsolved murder mysteries.
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 judged Jane’s contribution as a leading educational philanthropist over the next hundred years or so.
At a moment in time when many institutions are examining their histories, will Jane finally get her due? Aside from the lingering question of whodunit, will we finally discover more about how one of America’s most powerful women came to such a tragic end.
I wrote about the still-unsolved mystery of Jane Stanford’s death for the summer issue of Alta Journal and discussed the story today in an Alta Live online event. Join us for an unsettling conversation.
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