BIOGRAPHY: Born into a farm family of Gainesville, New York, he entered the newly
established Cornell University as an undergraduate in 1866, and received a
master's degree in 1872; he was an instructor in botany at Cornell beginning in 1870. He then moved to Indianapolis and acquired an MD from Indiana Medical College (1875), after lecturing in 1874 on marine botany at the Anderson summer school of natural history at Penikese Island, Massachusetts, and on botany and ichthyology at the Harvard School of Geology in 1875. He earned Ph.D. from Butler University in 1878, taking up a professorship in science at Indiana University in 1879.
From 1879 through 1881 he was a special agent of the United States census for the marine industries of the Pacific coast, and he also held appointments at various times with United States Fish Commission, beginning in 1877 and extending through 1891.
He was appointed president of Indiana University on January 1, 1885, and then went to Stanford in 1891 to become its first president, later becoming its chancellor in 1913, in order to have more time available for his peace activities (a new trustee by the name of Herbert Hoover helped arrange this). Jordan retired in 1916. He was president of the California Academy of Sciences from 1896 to 1904 and after 1908. He was also president of the World Peace Foundation from 1910 to 1914 and chaired the World Peace Conference in 1915.
Jordan was an extremely prolific writer, with 650 articles and books on
ichthyology alone, and 1,400 other works. As of 1881, Jordan had already
published about 250 papers on North American ichthyology, also the Manual of the Vertebrates of the Northern United States.
Jordan is somewhat notable in the fields of political science and
international relations for his optimistic statements about the future of the world before the outbreak of World War I. According to the book Understanding International Conflicts by Joseph Nye, Jordan incorrectly predicted in 1910 that nations would not go to war in the future because it would cause too much damage to their economies.
The Days of a Man
By David Starr Jordan
Yonkers-on-Hudson, New York
World Book Company
1922 - Page 650
On our way back to California we made as usual a brief but enjoyable stop in Chicago at the home of my wife's brother Charles, and another visit of two or three days in Provo (Utah) with our son Knight and his wife, whose wedding had occurred about a year before. This was the result of a romance I had myself in some sense brought about, though quite unwittingly. Miss Iona, one of the three daughters of Jesse Knight, a prominent and much-beloved citizen of Utah, had been partly prepared for Wellesley College at the Westlake School in Los Angeles directed by Miss Vance and Miss De Laguna, two Stanford graduates. Having later completed the required work under Dr. John C. Swenson, Stanford '98, upon his earnest recommendation she recalled her credentials from the East, applied for admission with us, and started for Palo Alto. As it happened that I was taking the same train from Salt Lake, Mr. William Knight asked me to see his sister safely to her destination---a pleasant duty because of her fine character and attractive manner. Arrived at Stanford, she spent the first night in our home. Then began a wholesome friendship between the two young people which gradually ripened into warmer feeling and led to their marriage in September, 1913. They are now the parents of two charming children, Lee Knight Jordan and Ruth Jorden.
David Starr Jordan (1851-1931)
David Starr Jordan was the most influential of all American ichthyologists. He and his students dominated the field in the late 19th and early 20 century. It has been said that all ichthyologists today can trace their professional ancestry back to Jordan. Most of Jordan's scientific career was spent at Indiana University (1879-1891) and Stanford University (1891-1931), but he was closely associated with the Smithsonian for much of his career. He was even offered, at different times, the positions of National Museum director and Smithsonian Secretary, but he declined both. Like so many naturalists of his generation, Jordan owed much to Spencer Baird. Reminiscing in later years, he said that the three figures who contributed most to his own development were Andrew Dickson White (president of Cornell University, where Jordan studied), Louis Agassiz, and Spencer Baird. Jordan visited Baird's summer laboratory of the U.S. Fish Commission at Noank, Connecticut, in 1874. Although Baird himself was absent, Jordan met several of Baird's group, including G. Brown Goode. Here, as Jordan tells it, is where he first came under Baird's influence. Baird by this time was certainly aware of Jordan and recognized his talents. From the mid-1870s into the 1880s, Jordan and his students made summer collecting trips into the southern states, whose fishes were poorly known at the time. Baird provided financial support and collecting equipment, and most of the fishes collected were deposited at the Smithsonian. Jordan, in effect, became part of Baird's vast network of collectors and greatly contributed to the growth of the Smithsonian's fish collection. The relationship was mutually beneficial and created a synergy that produced much more than either could have accomplished on his own. In Jordan, Baird found not just an individual collector, but a fellow scientist who had his own network of student assistants. Jordan not only collected the fishes, but studied and published on them as well. Baird, in turn, gave Jordan access to resources he would not otherwise have had. In those days, the Smithsonian and the U.S. Fish Commission were closely intertwined, as Baird headed both organizations. Jordan worked in association with both agencies and published much of his work in their journals. Jordan's collecting trips began in 1875 in Indiana and Wisconsin. His most important field work was done in the southern states, where he spent several summers, beginning in 1876. In 1880, as part of the Tenth Census, Baird organized a survey of the fisheries in the United States, and in connection with this he asked Jordan to explore the Pacific coast. Jordan and his assistants collected fishes along the entire west coast, from the Mexican border to Canada. The collecting was extended by Jordan's student and assistant, Charles Henry Gilbert, to Mexico and Central America. In 1884, at the request of G. Brown Goode of the U.S. National Museum, Jordan undertook an extensive survey of the fresh-water fishes of southern United States. Assisted by C.H. Gilbert, J. Swain, and S.E. Meek, he explored various rivers in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, and Tennessee. It was, to date, the most detailed exploration of fresh-water fishes in the U.S. (See: "Record of Collections of Fishes," 1885). Jordan's various expeditions constituted, in effect, a survey of North American fishes, complementing the railroad and boundary surveys of the 1850s. These collections formed much of the basis for the classic Fishes of North and Middle America by Jordan and Evermann, published between 1896 and 1900. In the years that followed Baird's death in 1887, Jordan maintained his association with the Smithsonian and the Fish Commission by undertaking expeditions to Hawaii, Alaska, Samoa, and Japan.
When G. Brown Goode died in 1896, Jordan was offered the directorship of the National Museum. He was then early in his tenure as president of Stanford University and did not feel he could leave during its critical formative years. In 1906, he was offered the post of Smithsonian Secretary. This time he was strongly tempted to accept, but then the great earthquake struck the San Francisco area, and Jordan again felt it was his duty to stay. The history of ichthyology might have been quite different if Jordan had decided to accept either of these offers. In 1921, on the occasion of Jordan's 70th birthday, the Smithsonian Secretary Charles D. Walcott sent him a letter of congratulations, acknowledging his close ties to the Institution. "Your early associations were with Baird, Gill, Brown Goode, and Tarleton Bean," he said, "and your name will go down in the Museum's history linked with theirs. No wonder we have always regarded you as one of us, and we know that this sentiment is being reciprocated by you."
American Ancestry giving the name and descent, in the male line, of
Americans whose Ancestors Settled in the United States previous to the
Declaration of Independence. A. D. 1776.
Vol. V. – Albany, N.Y.
Joel Munsell’s Sons, Publishers
JORDAN, DAVID STARR of Bloomington, Ind., b. at Gainesville, N. Y., Jan. 19, 1851, grad. Cornell Univ. 1872, M. D. 1875, Ph. D. 1877, LL. D. Cornell 1886, president Univ. of Indiana 1885, assistant U. S. Fish Comm. since 1877, author of various books and papers on Zoology (m. Mar. 10, 1875, Susan Bowen, d. Nov. 10, 1885, dau. of Sylvester S. and Monica [Frissell] Bowen of Peru, Mass., m. 2d, Aug. 10, 1887, Jessie L. H., dau. of Charles S. and Cordelia [Cutter] Knight of Worcester, Mass., formerly of Ware, Mass.); son of Hiram of Gainesville, b. at Moriah, N. Y., Feb. 22, 1809, d. at Gainesville July 12, 1889, teacher and farmer (m. 1833, Huldah Lake Hawley, b. at Whitehall, N. Y., dau. of David and Anne [Waldo] Hawley of Tolland, Ct., desc. of Edward Waldo); son of Rufas of Moriah, N. Y., b. at Litchfield, Ct., 1783, d. at Gainesville, N. Y., 1865, farmer (m. about 1807, Rebecca Bacon of Connecticut, dau. of Thaddeus Leach, name afterward changed to Bacon); son of Joshua of Moriah, N. Y., b. at Litchfield, Ct., about 1750, d. at Moriah about 1820, an officer in the militia and in the War of 1812, afterward justice at Moriah, of English desc., whose father's name is supposed to have been Rev. Elijah Jordan.
CENSUS: 1900 United States Federal Census
Name: Knight S Jordan
Home in 1900: Leland Stanford Junior University, Santa Clara, California
Estimated birth year: abt 1889
Relationship to head-of-house: Son
Father's name: David S
Mother's name: Jessie K
Occupation: President of Stanford University
Household Members: Name Age
David S Jordan 49
Jessie K Jordan 33
Edith M Jordan 23
Harold B Jordan 17
Knight S Jordan 11
Barbara Jordan 8
Loretta Barloy 45
S Jack May 22
Sam Lian 37
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Leland Stanford Junior University, Santa Clara, California; Roll: T623 111; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 97.
OBITUARY: Memorial Resolution
David Starr Jordan
In the death of David Starr Jordan Stanford University has lost a great leader, the world of Science a great scholar, and our American democracy a great interpreter. It was he who shaped the policies which gave to Stanford its distinctive character and who guided it through its formative period and through the critical years of its history. To no other, save to the founders alone, does the University owe so much as it owes to him. He was more than scholar and executive; he was the apostle of a high idealism. It would be impossible to measure his influence in promoting a sane attitude toward life among the thousands of students whose lives he touched, or the service which he rendered to the cause of international good will by his steadfast loyalty and devotion to the things which make for peace. To the members of this Council, especially to those who served with him through the early years of Stanford's history, his death brings a deep sense of personal loss. We mourn a trusted and honored leader; we mourn still more a well-loved friend.
The Modesto News – Herald
Modesto, Stanislaus County, California, Saturday, September, 19, 1931
David S. Jordan Dies At Stanford
Chancellor – Emeritus Of University Succumbs To Paralysis Stroke
Funeral Services Set For Monday Afternoon In Memorial Chapel
Stanford University, Cal., Sept. 19 – Dr. David Starr Jordan, 80-year-old chancellor-emeritus of Stanford University, died here to-day of a complication of aliments from which he has suffered for several months. Dr. Jordan, noted peace advocate passed away about 9:45 A.M., while he was still unconscious as a result of his fifth stroke of paralysis yesterday. He died at Serra House his Stanford campus home. With Dr. Jordan at his death were Mrs. Jessie Knight Jordan, his wife, Knight Jordan, as son, and two physicians and two nurses. The physicians of the aged educator were Dr. Russell V. Lee and Dr. Blake Wilbur, son of Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur, president of Stanford University. Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur, secretary of the interior, a life-long friend of Dr. Jordan, left only yesterday for Washington after a visit at his home here. Besides the widow Dr. Jordan is survived by three children. They are: Mrs. Nathaniel Gardener of Berkeley, Harold Bowen Jordan, Medford, Oregon, and Knight Starr Jordan of Palo Alto, Cal. Mrs. Gardener and Harold are children by Dr. Jordan’s first marriage and Knight Starr Jordan is the son of Dr. Jordan and the present Mrs. Jordan. Two children died. A daughter, Barbara, died as a child and Eric Jordan died four years ago at the age of 23. The last stroke was sudden. It came after a day spent in apparent ease. The fourth stroke was about a month ago and after recovery from it Dr. Jordan seemed on the road to health, despite his years. Outside of Stanford Dr. Jordan is best known as an advocate of international peace. But he was an authority on many other matters. His chief profession was that of ichthyologist. He was the author of many books on education, peace and science. As president of Indiana University he was once the youngest university president in the country. On his retirement as president of Stanford he was widely regarded as the dean of college presidents and the title of chancellor-emeritus was conferred upon him. Dr. Jordan’s death will not interfere with this afternoon’s football game in Stanford Stadium between the Stanford Varsity team and the West Coast Army team. Members of the Jordan family communicated with the Stanford Board of Athletic Control that the game be not cancelled because of Dr. Jordan’s death as he would not have wanted to stand in the way of such an enterprise. Dr. Robert E. Swain, acting president of the university while Dr. Wilbur in on leave, was in Los Angeles at the time of the death. Mrs. Mary Jordan Edwards, a sister of the educator, lives in Whittier, Calif. Dr. Jordan’s funeral will be held at 2:30 P.M. Monday in the Stanford Memorial Church. Dr. D. Charles Gardner, university chaplain, and Dr. Augustine T. Murray member of the faculty for years and former pastor to President Herbert Hoover at the Friends’ Church in Washington, will officiate at the ceremonies. The body will lie in state at the church from 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. Monday. Cremation will be at Cypress Lawn Cemetery.
MEDIA: D0429 - David Starr Jordan
D0433 - David Starr & Eric Knight Jordan (1908)
D0444 - David Starr Jordan (1921) (The Days of Man Vol. II)
D0445 - David Starr Jordan
D0446 - David Starr Jordan
D0517 - David Starr Jordan
D0521 - David Starr Jordan