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David Starr Jordan

David Starr Jordan (1851 - 1931) was an ichthyologist, educator, the first president and Chancellor of Stanford University, and a eugenicist. Growing up on a farm in upstate New York, Jordan showed an interest in the natural world since young, and spent his time collecting and cataloguing specimens such as plants and butterflies. 


After graduating from Cornell University in 1872 with a Master of Science in Botany, Jordan was inspired to delve into ichthyology, the study of fish — he eventually became an established authority and was credited with naming more than 2,500 species of fishes and their broader classifications. His work on taxonomizing animals laid a foundation for his later investment in taxonomizing humans under a schema governed by scientific racism. 


In March 1891, while serving as the President of Indiana University, Jordan received and accepted an offer of presidency at Leland Stanford Junior University. He arrived at Stanford in June 1891 and set about recruiting faculty and students, and designing the curriculum. Jordan is ascribed the legacy of establishing and developing the university in its formative years; however, this legacy is incomplete without an examination of how he selected and influenced Stanford-affiliated faculty, and promoted eugenics in the University.

A photo portrait of David Starr Jordan. He is an older white man wearing a suit and tie. He has a mustache.
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