Clara Endicott Sears

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Clara Endicott Sears by Harper Pennington, ca.1880

Clara Endicott Sears (1863–1960) was a New England author, preservationist, and philanthropist.


Sears was born to a wealthy Yankee family in Boston in 1863. Her parents were Knyvet Winthrop Sears and Mary Crowninshield (Peabody) Sears. Sears was educated at private schools in Boston and by tutors in Europe. She authored several historical works as well as poetry, romantic works and popular songs for World War I.[1]

In 1910 Sears purchased a summer estate in Harvard, Massachusetts, which included the farmhouse that was part of a failed Transcendentalist community known as the Fruitlands or consociate family. After restoring the house, and collecting numerous materials, Sears opened the building as the Fruitlands Museum in 1914. On carriage rides through the Harvard countryside she came upon the Shaker village, and became close friends with the remaining sisters. When the Shaker community closed in 1918, it was purchased by Fiske Warren a proponent for a single tax enclave. Sears purchased a small structure built in 1794 that had been used as an office building for many decades by the Harvard Shakers. Warren moved it to her property. The old office became the second museum at Fruitlands, opening in 1922, in an effort to preserve the Shaker legacy. Sears also worked with Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University in acquiring a Native American collection to display at the museum. Sears transferred all the museum assets to Fruitlands and the Wayside Museums, Inc., in 1930. By this time the property included about 458 acres. Also during the 1930s, she collected early 19th-century primitive portraits and built a gallery to display them in 1939. She also collected Hudson River School paintings and other America folk art for the museum. Sears was awarded a gold medal by the National Society of New England Women in 1942. She was a member of the Colonial Dames of America, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Society of Mayflower Descendants. Clara Endicott Sears died in Boston in 1960.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cynthia H. Barton, History's Daughter: The Life of Clara Endicott Sears Founder of Fruitlands Museums (CLB Publications, 1988) (ISBN 9780941632027)

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