David Starr Jordan

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David Starr Jordan

Birthplace: Gainesville, Wyoming, New York
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Hiram Jordan and Huldah Lake Jordan
Husband of Jessie L. H. Knight and Susan Bowen
Father of Edith M. Jordan; Knight Starr Jordan; Eric Knight Jordan; Harold B Jordan and <private> Jordan

Occupation: First president Stanford Univ., botanist, peach advocate
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About David Starr Jordan


David Starr Jordan, Ph.D., LL.D. (January 19, 1851 – September 19, 1931) was a leading eugenicist, ichthyologist, educator and peace activist. He was president of Indiana University and Stanford University.

Early life and education

Jordan was born in Gainesville, New York, and studied at Cornell University, Butler University, and the Indiana University School of Medicine. While at Cornell University, Jordan joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity.


In 1885, he was named President of Indiana University, becoming the nation's youngest university president at age 34 and the first Indiana University president that was not an ordained minister. In 1891, he became president of Stanford University, serving there as president until 1913 and chancellor until his retirement in 1916.

Jordan served as a Director of the Sierra Club from 1892 to 1903.

Although well regarded as an ichthyologist, Jordan was best known for being a peace activist. He argued that war was detrimental to the human species because it removed the strongest organisms from the gene pool. Jordan was president of the World Peace Foundation from 1910 to 1914 and president of the World Peace Conference in 1915, and opposed U.S. involvement in World War I.

In 1925, Jordan was an expert witness for the defense in the Scopes Trial. That same year, he was a listed member in the Bohemian Club and the University Club in San Francisco.

He served as a member of the initial board of trustees of the Human Betterment Foundation, a eugenics organization established in Pasadena, California in 1928 in order to compile and distribute information about compulsory sterilization legislation in the United States, for the purposes of eugenics.


His son, Eric Knight Jordan (1903–1926) followed his father's footsteps into the sciences. He had taken part in a successful paleontological expedition to the Revillagigedo Islands and was considered a rising star in the world of paleontology when he was involved in a traffic accident near Gilroy, California, suffering fatal injuries and dying at the age of 22. His death was a severe blow to his father.

Jordan's files are housed at Swarthmore College.

Monuments and memorials, Notable works, Eponymy


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David Starr Jordan's Timeline

January 19, 1851
Gainesville, Wyoming, New York
March 10, 1875
Age 24
February 1877
Age 26
July 1883
Age 32
August 10, 1887
Age 36
Ware, Hampshire, Massachusetts
October 26, 1888
Age 37
Ware, Hampshire, Massachusetts
September 27, 1903
Age 52
San Francisco, San Francisco, Califorinia
September 19, 1931
Age 80