Sam McDonald: A Stanford Pioneer

Decorative green image with tan shapes as a boarder with the text 'Stanford'

Photograph of Sam McDonald on a cart with a horse
Sam McDonald.
Courtesy the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University.

In 1903 McDonald accepted a teamster position at Stanford University and joined the local teamsters union. Soon he was responsible for building and maintenance of the campus roads. Later he took a position as campus night watchman. Throughout this time he continued taking correspondence courses - including new courses in criminology and tax law. He hired Stanford students to tutor him.

I had come to like my job… with the University because it afforded me unexcelled opportunity to pursue my studies and investigations.

While working at Stanford, McDonald’s role in the town of Mayfield expanded considerably. He began selling real estate and he was appointed Deputy Marshal. Additionally, he became a member of the American Detective Association and began doing investigative work for detective agencies in San Francisco.

After the 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco and the Stanford campus, McDonald took on new responsibilities on campus as superintendent of the athletic buildings and grounds. He also accepted a position overseeing nearly 1,000 acres of university-owned farmland.