Mrs. Leland (Jane) Stanford

Co-Founder of Leland Stanford Jr. University

This great institution of learning, with its endowment of more than $20,000,000, is a noble monument erected to the memory of an only son, the pride and hope of his parents. Since the death of her husband, Mrs. Stanford has, with rare devotion, given herself to the carrying out of her husband’s plans for the University.

At the day of opening the University, Mr. Sanford said, “I speak for Mrs. Stanford and myself, for she has been my active and sympathetic coadjutor, and is co-grantor with me in the endowment and establishment of this University.”

Their son Leland, Jr., was a boy of keen intellect and generous heart. He had prepared for college, but before entering upon the course he traveled with his parents abroad. He showed a marked taste for art and archaeology and had begun to collect for an extensive museum of his own.

While in Rome he was stricken with fever, and died March 13, 1884, some two months before his sixteenth birthday. The remains were brought back to their great Palo Alto estate in California.

The great purpose to live for humanity now that they had no son to live for, found expression in plans for a university. Mr. and Mrs. Stanford traveled extensively and studied the institutions of higher learning in his country, and then proceeded to found their memorial for their son.

Mr. Stanford died in 1893. Mrs. Stanford was given permission by the courts to distribute the estate, and she has actually given away all her wealth. At one time when the University was in special need of money she sent her jewels, valued at $2,000,000, to Europe to be sold, and the proceeds were given to the institution.

Her San Francisco home has been turned into a school for social science. She has founded six kindergarten schools at a cost of $10,000 each, and gave $100,000 each, and give $100,000 to found an orphan asylum in Albany, NY, in memory of her father and mother. She lived at Palo Alto and the University was her sole object in life.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.