The Not-so-mysterious Sarah Winchester

Presentation by Mary Jo Ignoffo, De Anza College history professor
Sunday, October 2, 2011 at the Los Altos Hills Town Hall

A talk by author and De Anza College history professor Mary Jo Ignoffo about her new book, Captive of the Labyrinth.

Through meticulous research, Ignoffo dispels many myths about the reclusive heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, and accounts for why many unfounded stories are still circulated about the widow.

The author's other books are local and California histories about such diverse topics as the Gold Rush and the genesis of Silicon Valley.

Please click below to see other books by the author:


The Chicago-born, Los Angeles-raised, longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area has spent much of the last twenty years researching and writing about California and community history.

Her work with museums includes the permanent outdoor Orchard Heritage Park Interpretive Exhibit in Sunnyvale, California and permanent and changing exhibits at Heritage Park Museum, also in Sunnyvale. She has been curator for more than ten installations at the California History Center at De Anza College in Cupertino, and historian and author for the 2010 exhibit on Sarah Winchester at the Los Altos History Museum in Los Altos, California.

Her Gold Rush Politics (2000) is a detailed narrative about California's first legislature convened in 1849 as the Gold Rush erupted, and as people in California waited on the U.S. Congress to admit the territory as the nation's thirty-first state. This publication was sponsored by the California State Senate as its Sesquicentennial Project, celebrating California's 150 years of statehood, and earned Ignoffo a Resolution from the California State Legislature.

Ignoffo's articles have appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, Santa Clara Magazine, and The Californian. She has been interviewed for documentaries including Sunnyvale Voices, a film compilation of stories about the defense and agricultural industries in California, and Million Dollar Dirt about the demise of farmland in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ignoffo has worked as a preservation consultant, participating in surveys of historic buildings undertaken in compliance with California's Office of Historic Preservation.

Mary Jo Ignoffo teaches U.S. history and topics in California history at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. She resides in Santa Clara with her husband and two children.








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