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Who killed Jane Stanford? : a gilded age tale of murder, deceit, spirits and the birth of a university  Cover Image Book Book

Who killed Jane Stanford? : a gilded age tale of murder, deceit, spirits and the birth of a university / Richard White.


"A premier historian penetrates the fog of corruption and cover-up still surrounding the murder of a Stanford University founder to establish who did it, how, and why. In 1885 Jane and Leland Stanford cofounded a university to honor their recently deceased young son. After her husband's death in 1893, Jane Stanford, a devoted spiritualist who expected the university to inculcate her values, steered Stanford into eccentricity and public controversy for more than a decade. In 1905 she was murdered in Hawaii, a victim, according to the Honolulu coroner's jury, of strychnine poisoning. With her vast fortune the university's lifeline, the Stanford president and his allies quickly sought to foreclose challenges to her bequests by constructing a story of death by natural causes. The cover-up gained traction in the murky labyrinths of power, wealth, and corruption of Gilded Age San Francisco. The murderer walked. Deftly sifting the scattered evidence and conflicting stories of suspects and witnesses, Richard White gives us the first full account of Jane Stanford's murder and its cover-up. Against a backdrop of the city's machine politics, rogue policing, tong wars, and heated newspaper rivalries, White's search for the murderer draws us into Jane Stanford's imperious household and the academic enmities of the university. Although Stanford officials claimed that no one could have wanted to murder Jane, we meet several people who had the motives and the opportunity to do so. One of these, we discover, also had the means"-- Provided by publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9781324004332 (hardcover)
  • ISBN: 1324004339 (hardcover)
  • Physical Description: xviii, 362 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York, NY : W.W. Norton & Company, [2022]

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 303-349) and index.
Formatted Contents Note:
Poland Spring Water -- Founding a university -- Quarrels -- A system of absolutism -- Travels toward a poisoning -- Death comes for Mrs. Stanford -- The investigation begins -- The investigation -- The cover-up -- Jane Stanford comes home -- Who killed her?
Subject: Stanford, Jane Lathrop, 1828-1905.
Murder > Hawaii > Case studies.
Stanford University > History.
Conspiracy > Hawaii.
Meurtre > Hawaii > Études de cas.
Complot > Hawaii.
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General.
Stanford, Jane Lathrop, 1828-1905.
Stanford University.
Genre: Case studies.
True crime stories.
Case studies.
True crime stories.
Études de cas.
Récits criminels.

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at State Library of Alabama.


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
APLS 364.1523 WHI 2022 31291002950598 Stacks Available -

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