Murder Mystery in Philanthropy

Updated: May 18

Salute to Women Philanthropists-Jane Lathrop Stanford

Jane Stanford (1825 -1905) ran Stanford University and managed an extensive building program after her husband Leland’s death in 1893. Jane used her own allowance to keep Stanford afloat while her husband’s estate was in probate. Despite her generosity she was murdered by strychnine poisoning according to a coroner’s report. Many believe that her murder may have had something to do with the power struggles over control of Stanford University which she and her husband founded in 1891.

Before her death Jane even famously, and unsuccessfully, tried to sell her fabulous jewel collection in England during Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee celebrations to support Stanford. After her death, the Jewel Fund was established to sell those jewels, and to this day provides funding for the university’s library.

Philanthropy is not boring. Drama and intrigue abound in many stories of generosity.

Stay tuned for next week’s Salute to Women Philanthropists in this series for Women’s History Month. It will surprise you.






M. Gasby Brown,

CEO & Executive Consultant

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