Jane Stanford, the founder of Stanford University, perished over 100 years ago, and the circumstances around her death are still a mystery. In 1905, Stanford was one of the richest women in California before she was poisoned by strychnine while vacationing in Hawaii. This poisoning was not the first attempt. But why would anyone want her dead?
In the weeks following her death, Stanford’s friends and inner circle claimed she died from natural causes, partaking in one messy coverup. 76-year-old Stanford devoted the last part of her life to creating Stanford University after tragically losing her son to typhoid fever at age 15. After her husband died in 1893, she continued putting her money and efforts toward her vision that would become one of the world’s most renowned universities.
There was way more to what her life and the school’s history appeared to be on the outside. And those surrounding her had way more to gain if she died. The cause of her death remained hidden, and her killer walked free.
Audacy and KCBS’ “Bitter Academia” examines Stanford’s life and backstory in this original true crime series. It’s one of the most bizarre unsolved mysteries of California’s Bay Area. Start the podcast from episode one to dive right in, with all episodes running less than an hour on average. The series is written, reported, and narrated by Natalia Gurevich. Matt Pitman worked on editing, production, and sound design, with additional editing from Managing Producer Myron Kaplan.
Gurevich brings listeners back to San Francisco’s Gilded Age “and the rot that lay beneath all the glitter and gold surrounding the life and death of Jane Stanford.” Gurevich shares how she first learned Stanford’s story while attending her grandfather’s 90th birthday party in her hometown, San Mateo, California. She shared why she is digging deep into Stanford’s story on “Bitter Academia.” Several of her family’s relatives attended Stanford University, and as a longtime true crime fan, this hits close to home.
Fans of investigative podcasts like “The Sausage King” and “Tenfold More Wicked” might also enjoy this true crime series. Tune in weekly for new episodes of “Bitter Academia.”