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Stanford Libraries acquires historic Daniel C. Jordan archives

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Jordan Archives Bolster and Expand the Jack H. Lee and Arden T. Lee Baha'i Collection at Stanford Libraries

By guest authors Deanne LaRue and David Langness

On 18 February 2016 the Stanford Libraries received the archives that contain the life’s work of educator, psychologist and philosopher Daniel C. Jordan, the creator of the Anisa Educational Model.

Delivered personally by Dr. Jordan’s widow, Nancy Jordan, and his educational collaborator, Donald Streets, the archives and materials contain more than a thousand documents, tapes, files and films spanning Jordan’s remarkable career in education, philosophy, human development, music and psychology. The archives include Jordan’s early work on the holistic, Baha'i-inspired Anisa Educational Project; his personal correspondence with major historical figures like the psychologist and writer Carl Jung; and his doctoral work at the University of Chicago in human development, social anthropology and psychology, for which he wrote and directed a ballet accompanied by musical score and scenario.


“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Nancy Jordan, Dan’s widow, said, “now that Dan’s important work has found a permanent home here at Stanford.”

 John Eilts, Nancy Jordan, Don Streets
From L-R: John Eilts, Nancy Jordan, Don Streets. Photo credit: Deanne LaRue


Jordan—at the age of 18 the first American ever to win a Rhodes Scholarship for music—was tragically murdered in New York in October of 1982, just after he turned 50 and had been named the Dean of the School of Education at National University in San Diego. The crime remains unsolved.

A well-known guest lecturer at more than 70 universities in the US and abroad, Jordan gave courses, conducted seminars, spoke extensively on his work in psychology and education, and appeared as a guest or panelist on over two hundred television and radio programs, including popular network talk shows such as The Dinah Shore Show and The Mike Douglas Show.

A child prodigy and piano virtuoso at a young age, Jordan earned his Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in the composition, theory and history of music from Oxford University in England, and turned down an offer to play Beethoven's “Emperor's Concerto” with the Oslo Symphony, which would have propelled him onto the tour circuit as a concert pianist. Instead, Jordan radically altered his career direction and began collegiate studies again at the University of Chicago, where he earned a master's degree in human development. In 1964 he obtained a Ph.D. in human development with specialization in social anthropology and psychology. He went on to carry out a post-doctoral sequence in brain structure and brain chemistry and their relation to memory, emotion, and learning.

Jordan’s deep spiritual life affected everything he did. As a Baha'i, Jordan believed in the emergence of a new, universal global culture, which he felt he could best serve and help bring about in his role as an educator. With the creation of the Anisa (Arabic for the Tree of Life) Project—adopted by dozens of school systems during Jordan’s lifetime—he had begun to realize his dream of unleashing human potential. Initially conceptualized and constructed at the University of Massachusetts while Jordan worked there as a professor, the Anisa Educational Model, inspired by the Baha'i teachings and the philosophical work of Alfred North Whitehead, soon grew into a national movement that trained hundreds of educators. When his life prematurely ended, Jordan had just established an accredited master's degree program at National University; a university-based, laboratory school for kindergarten through high school; had contracted with the Association for the World University to develop their curriculum; and had founded the International Center for Human Development, one of his lifelong goals.

“Now that Stanford Libraries will make these records available, we invite scholars to examine thoroughly the philosophical basis of the Anisa Model of education, as well as its comprehensive theory of development, along with the theories of pedagogy, curriculum, evaluation, and administration that derive from that all-embracing philosophy—as a possible breakthrough in not only understanding the essential nature of human beings, but also in rescuing educational practice from the vagaries, uncertainties, and erroneous effects of tradition and opinion,” said Dr. Donald T. Streets. “The Anisa Model progressively moves education onto a sound trajectory of responsible improvement that eventually can warrant education and educational practice justifiably being called a science. I believe that Dan Jordan's contribution to an understanding of human development and its import for education will more than equal the great scholarly contributions of Descartes, Galileo, Einstein, and others who had to fight their way to getting their incredible breakthroughs in knowledge known, understood, and eventually appreciated by humanity.”


 Deanne LaRue

The archive delivered to SUL. From L-R: John Eilts, Nicholas Mentha, Shirin Coleman, Sonia Lee, Don Streets, David Langness, Nancy Jordan. Photo credit: Deanne LaRue.


Jordan served on the democratically-elected National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States for 20 years, and he and his wife Nancy travelled the globe in support of the Baha'i ideal of the oneness of humanity. His broad conceptual vision of a new educational model generated a profound personal legacy and a worldwide influence, and his research, correspondence and documents are now gathered in one place at Stanford University in Palo Alto, where Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith, visited and spoke in 1912.

Stanford University Libraries established the first university-based collection of materials on the Baha’i religion in the United States, beginning with the initial donation of the Jack and Arden T. Lee Baha'i Collection, one of the most extensive private libraries of materials related to the Faith. The collection includes thousands of books, letters, photographs and rare, out-of-print early Baha’i publications.

“Don Streets and Nancy Jordan have been dear friends of my parents for nearly 60 years,” said Shirin Lee Coleman, Jack and Arden Lee’s daughter. “Don and Nancy’s entrusting of their personal treasures from Dan Jordan’s life to the Jack H. Lee and Arden T. Lee Baha’i Collection at Stanford is a full-circle expression of their mutual friendship and respect, especially when these treasures could have been gifted to any of the other academic institutions Dan Jordan was affiliated with such as Oxford or the University of Chicago.”

“The addition of Dr. Jordan’s archives is a great addition to our Baha'i collection, and will provide resources for students, scholars and researchers far into the future,” said John Eilts, curator for the Stanford Libraries’ Islamic and Middle Eastern collection.


 Deanne LaRue

Curator John Eilts examining one of the documents from the archive. Photo credit: Deanne LaRue


The Baha’i Faith, the world’s newest independent global belief system, teaches the oneness of God, the unity of humanity and the essential harmony of religion. Baha’is believe in peace, justice, love, altruism and unity. The Baha’i teachings promote the agreement of science and religion, the equality of the sexes and the elimination of all prejudice and racism.  www.bahai.org, www.bahaiteachings.org

The new Lee Fund for Baha’i Studies will ensure that the collection of archival material will continue to grow.

“We are immeasurably fortunate to have John Eilts as our curator for the Baha’i Collection,” Coleman said. “He understands and respects the Baha’i Faith and its principles. John knows the value of preserving historic books and materials while focusing on the importance of building the collection and making it accessible to those who, now and in the future, want to learn and do research on all aspects of Baha’i teachings and history.”

If you would like to support the development of the Baha’i collection, please visit giving.stanford.edu/libraries and designate “Baha’i Fund” in the special instructions field.

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