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David Starr Jordan papers, 1874-1929, bulk 1895-1929

A Guide to the Papers at the Indiana University Archives

Electronic finding aid encoded by Ryan K. Lee

Summary Information

Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management
1320 East Tenth Street
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Phone: 812-855-1127

Jordan, David Starr, 1851-1931.

David Starr Jordan papers,1874-1929,  bulk 1895-1929

Collection No.

3.4 cubic feet (4 boxes)

Materials are in English.

David Starr Jordan was born in Gainesville, New York on January 19, 1851 to Hiram J. and Huldah Lake (Hawley) Jordan. He received his BA and MS degrees from Cornell University in 1872. In 1879 Jordan was hired as professor of Natural History at Indiana University, and in 1885 he was elected as the seventh president of IU. Jordan held that position until 1891, when he left IU to become Stanford University’s first president. Jordan died in 1931. The David Starr Jordan papers total 1.2 cubic feet and span the years 1874-1929. The Jordan papers are divided into two series: Correspondence and Publications, lectures, and addresses.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Advance notice is required.

Biographical Note

David Starr Jordan was born in Gainesville, New York on January 19, 1851 to Hiram J. and Huldah Lake (Hawley) Jordan. After home schooling and attendance at area schools, Jordan won the local scholarship to the newly founded Cornell University. By his junior year in Ithaca, Jordan was named instructor in Botany. Upon completion of his thesis, "Wild Flowers of Wyoming County" in 1872, Cornell awarded Jordan both his BS and MS degrees.

Following his years at Cornell, Jordan held several short-term teaching posts before coming to Indiana in 1874 as an instructor at Indianapolis High School. He joined the Butler University faculty in 1875, and in 1879, he left Butler for Indiana University, where he was a professor of natural history. In a short time, the popular professor received recognition as an outstanding educator and scientist. In 1885, Jordan was named the 7th President of the University. He was the youngest person as well as the first non-clergyman to hold that position. The election to this post came as a complete (and unwelcome) surprise to Jordan, who was really hoping to receive a permanent position with the United States Fish Commission. As reported in the Bloomington Saturday Courier (January 17, 1885), at a scheduled lecture shortly after the election, Jordan stated, "Let me speak frankly, my friends. I enter these new relations to my adopted state with no feeling of exultation or of gratified ambition....If the duties of the President kill the work of the naturalist, these duties must be taken by another hand."

Dr. Jordan served as Indiana University President until 1891. During his tenure Jordan initiated or promoted several important changes at IU. Among the most important changes were 1) Transformation of the faculty. During Jordan's tenure, the number of IU faculty members increased from 18 to 29. Many of these new faculty represented the type of scholar/teacher that Jordan felt was needed in the modern university; 2) Allowing students more freedom in selecting a major and in designing their own curriculum; and 3) Increasing the number of departments and courses.

Jordan was so successful in this position that in 1891 Senator and Mrs. Leland Stanford asked him to head a new university named for their deceased son. He accepted the position, and persuaded 6 IU professors and 37 students to accompany him to Stanford. Jordan held the post of President at Stanford until 1913, when he moved to the position of Chancellor of Stanford. In 1916, he retired and assumed the position of Chancellor Emeritus until his death in 1931.


Collection is organized into two series: Correspondence and Publications, lectures, and addresses

Scope and Content Note

The David Starr Jordan Papers total 3.4 cubic and span the years from 1874-1929. This collection does not include any records from the period 1885-March, 1891, when Jordan was president of Indiana University. These records can be found in the Office of the President records, Collection C77.

The Jordan papers are divided into two series: Correspondence and Publications, lectures, and addresses. The Correspondence series consists of twelve letters arranged chronologically spanning the years 1880-1899. Five of the letters were written by Jordan and seven are written to him. Two of the letters relate to Jordan's research interests (1880 letters), and three letters (1891 letters and 1899 letter) relate to qualifications of candidates for faculty positions. The 1883 letter written by Jordan from Germany describes his thoughts after hearing about the 1883 fire that destroyed the IU Science building and most of Jordan's collection of specimens. The 1884 letter from M.K.D. urges Jordan to accept the IU presidency, if elected. The remaining five letters from 1884 relate to discussions of John Coulter as a candidate for the IU President position, and a description by Coulter of his requirements for a biological laboratory at IU.

The Publications, lectures, and addresses series totals approximately 3.3 cubic feet of records, is arranged chronologically, and spans the years from 1874-1929. This collection of writings represents much of Jordan's scholarly output during his lifetime, but it is by no means complete. The general subject content of the series breaks down as follows: scholarly writings related to his research on fishes and vertebrate animals, including his Manual of the Vertebrate Animals of the Northern United States; works on contemporary topics such as war and peace, eugenics, evolution, education and the state of the universities; and several works containing Jordan's poetry, including his publication To Barbara.

Separated Material

Six items containing biographical information about Jordan were removed and placed in his reference file.

Related Material

See also Jordan records as President of IU, Collection C77; see also the Jordan reference file for biographical information about him; see also the records of Jordan as President of Stanford-originals at the Stanford University Archives and microfilm at the IU Archives, Accession 0159.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Accessions 94/038 and 94/033.
Usage Restrictions
Copyright interests for this collection have not been transferred to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University Archivist.
Preferred Citation
[Item], David Starr Jordan papers, Collection C297, Office of University Archives and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processing Information
Processed by Philip Bantin.

Completed in 2005. Updated and revised in 2010.

Series: Correspondence, 1880-1899 

Box 1 David Starr Jordan to Rosa Smith, 11 October 1880  [image]View item(s)

David Starr Jordan to "Dear Friend," 15 November 1880  [image]View item(s)

Elliott Coues to DSJ, 15 February 1882  [image]View item(s)

re: cancelled visit to IU

David Starr Jordan to "Dear Friend," 4 August 1883  [image]View item(s)

re: Fire at Indiana University. Probably to President Lemuel Moss.

"M.K.D." to David Starr Jordan, 16 November 1884  [image]View item(s)

David Starr Jordan to David Banta, 29 November 1884  [image]View item(s)

John Coulter to David Starr Jordan, 30 November 1884  [image]View item(s)

John Coulter to David Starr Jordan, 4 December 1884  [image]View item(s)

Asa Gray to David Starr Jordan, 6 December 1884  [image]View item(s)

David Starr Jordan to James L. Mitchell, 12 December 1884  [image]View item(s)

Enoch A. Bryan (President of Vincennes University) to David Starr Jordan, 15 August 1891  [image]View item(s)

Enoch A. Bryan (President of Vincennes University) to President of IU (letter forwarded to Jordan who was in Palo Alto, CA), 15 August 1891  [image]View item(s)

J. Laurence Laughlin to David Starr Jordan, 19 May 1899  [image]View item(s)

Series: Publications, lectures, and addresses, 1874-1929,   undated 

Box 1 "A Key to the Higher Algae of the Atlantic Coast, Between Newfoundland and Florida," American Naturalist, Vol. VIII, July, 1874 


"Synopses of 31 Lectures on Geology by Dr. David Starr Jordan to Senior Class Fall term 1880, Indiana University" By Robert A. Woods, BS 1881 


"A Talk About Names by Prof. David S. Jordan to the Students of Indiana University, Saturday Morning," 30 April 1881 "

(2 copies)

"Ulrich Von Hutten: Part I" in The Current , Vol. 6, Dec. 4, 1886 


"Ulrich Von Hutten: Part I" in The Current , Vol. 6, Dec. 11, 1886 


"Darwinism. A Brief Account of the Darwinian Theory of the Origin of Species," 1888 


"Report of the Alumni Trustee to the Alumni of Cornell University," 1888 

Science Sketches, 1888,  1896 

(4 copies)

The Story of the Innumerable Company, Stanford University Press, 1895 

Care and Culture of Men, 1896 

"Science and Non-Science," 1897 

Footnotes to Evolution, 1898 

"The Strength of Being Clean, Address delivered on the occasion of the Forty-Fifth Anniversary of the Young Men's Christian Association of San Francisco," Jan. 30, 1898 

"An Apology for the American University," The Conservative Review. A Quarterly , No. II, Vol. II, November 1899 

A Manual of the Vertebrate Animals of the Northern United States , 8th Edition, Chicago, A.C. McClurg and Company, 1899 

"The Question of the Phillipines. An Address Delivered Before the Graduate Club of Leland Stanford Junior University on February 14, 1899 "

(2 copies)

"The Strength of Being Clean. A Study of the Quest for UnEarned Happiness," A White Cross Address, Boston, Beacon Press, 1900 

(2 copies)

Standeth God Within the Shadow, 1901 

Animal Life, 1901,  1903 

(2 copies)

The Blood of the Nation. A Study of the Decay of the Races Through the Survival of the Unfit, Boston, American Unitarian Association , 1902 

The Philosophy of Despair,1902 

(2 copies)

The Philosophy of Hope,1902 

The Call of the Twentieth Century ,1903 

(2 copies)

Box 2 Matka and Kotik, 1903 

Animal Studies, 1903,  1909 

(2 copies)

Life's Enthusiasms, Boston, American Unitarian Association, 1906 

(2 copies)

California and the Californians, 1907 

The Human Harvest, 1907 

"With No Mark or Brand," Address at the 16th Annual Commencement of the Leland Stanford Junior University, 22 May 1907 

"On a Collection of Fishes From Echigo, Japan," From the Proceedings of the United States National Museum, Vol. XXXIII, 12 December 1907 

The Human Harvest. A Study of the Decay of Races Through the Survival of the Unfit , Boston, American Unitarian Association, 1907 

The Higher Sacrifice, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1908 

Fish Stories, 1909 

The Religion of a Sensible American, 1909 

The Scientific Aspects of Luther Burbank's Work , 1909 

The Blood of the Nation, 1910 

The Call of the Nation. A Plea for Taking Politics out of Politics , Boston, American Unitarian Association, 1910 

(2 copies)

"War and Manhood," Address Given in Boston, July 4, 1910 

The Hereditiy of Richard Roe, 1911 

Eric's Book of Beasts, 1912 

Unseen Empire. A Study of the Plight of Nations that Do Not Pay Their Debts , Boston, American Unitarian Association, 1912 

America's Conquest of Europe

"Statement of President Jordan made at Commencement," 19 May 1913 

(2 copies)

To Barbara. With Other Verses, 1913 

(3 copies)

"What Shall We Say," Series of Articles Written for World Peace Foundation, 1913-1916,   undated 

(Incomplete, Includes Numbers 4-5, 8, 22-25, 27-28, 31, 33, 35-37, 41-47, 49-55, 58, 67-69, 71-75, 77)

Box 3 War and Waste, 1914 

War's Aftermath, 1914 

"The Security League in American Colleges," A Letter in Response to a Circular Letter Issued by the American Security League, 3 October 1915 

"What Shall We Say," 1915 

Alsace-Lorraine, A Study in Conquest: 1913 , Indianapolis, The Bobs-Merrill Company, 1916 

Ways to Lasting Peace, 1916 

"World Peace and the College Man," Delivered Before the University of Pennsylvania, 19 November 1915. The George Dana Boardman Lectureship in Christian Ethics. Published by the University of Pennsylvania, 1916 

Democracy and World Relations, New York, World Book Company, 1920 

(3 copies)

Days of a Man, 2 volumes, 1922 

Ulrich Von Hutten. A Knight of the Order of Poets , New York, World Book Company, 1922 

War and the Breed. The Relation of War to the Downfall of Nations , New York, World Book Company, 1922 

(2 copies)

"On the Family of Achiridae or Broad-Soles, With Description of a New Species Achirus Barnharti from California," Reprinted from the University of California Publications in Zoology, Vol. 26, No. 1, 26 December 1923 

"A Collection of Fossil Fishes in the University of Kansas From the Niobrara Formation of the Cretaceous," Reprinted from the Kansas University Science Bulletin, Vol. XV, No. 2, December, 1924 

"Men Told Me, Lord," Copy of a Poem by Jordan that was published in The World’s Great Religious Poetry, 1925 

Box 4 The Religion of a Sensible American, Boston, The Beacon Press, 2nd Printing, 1926 

(1st printing 1909)

The Higher Foolishness, 1927 

Manual of the Vertebrate Animals, 1929 

The Trend of the American University, Stanford University Press, 1929 

"The Colors of Letters," Manuscript with Corrections, undated 

"A Consideration of Herbert Spencer's Essay on Education," undated 

"In Search of Truth," undated 

"Individual Freedom and Magna Charta Day," undated 


"The League of Nations," Reprint from the Star Press, San Francisco, undated 

"On the Disappearance of Great Men From Public Life," undated 


"The Terms of Peace," undated 

"Trend Toward Peace," Reprint from the San Francisco Journal, undated