|Born||February 12, 1854
Franklin Grove, Illinois
|Died||May 21, 1948
Santa Clara, California
|Alma mater||Carthage College|
|Spouse||Alice Evaline Crawford|
Sanford was born on a farm near Franklin Grove in Lee County, Illinois on February 12, 1854. He was the son of Faxton and Maria Mariah (Bly) Sanford. He attended Carthage College, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1879. He taught school until the mid-1880s, then studied physics in Germany under Hermann von Helmholtz for two years.
Returning to the United States, he became a Professor of Physical Science at Lake Forest College. David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University, chose him as one of the founding professors for Stanford, where he remained until his retirement in 1919. At Stanford he was the founder and first president of the Science Association. He was an early promoter of the use of laboratory instruction for undergraduates. He also helped to formulate the entrance requirements for Stanford.
His book Elements of Physics (published in 1902, digitized in 2007) was an important textbook in the field. Other books and monographs included The Scientific Method And Its Limitations (1899), The Electrical Charges of Atoms and Ions (1919), A Physical Theory of Electrification, and How To Study; Illustrated Through Physics.
His interest in electricity led to his construction of a "terrestrial electric observatory," whose results were published over many years in his Bulletin of the Terrestrial Electric Observatory of Fernando Sanford. His research included an early type of electric photography.
He died May 21, 1948 in Santa Clara, California.
- California Death Index, United States Passport Application 14 August 1886
- "Memorial Resolution: Fernando Sanford (1854 - 1948)". Stanford Historical Society. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "Guide to the Fernando Sanford Papers". Online Archive of California. Stanford University Archives. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Sanford, Fernando (1902). Elements of Physics. H. Holt and Company.
- "Books by Fernando Sanford". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Sanford, Fernando (1923, digitized 2009). Bulletin of the Terrestrial Electric Observatory of Fernando Sanford, Volumes 1-6.
- Sparavigna, Amelia Carolina. "Fernando Sanford and the "Kirlian effect"". Dipartimento di Fisica. Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy. Retrieved 19 June 2012.