Special Collections authors you’ve never heard of
Part IV: Clara Endicott Sears
Clara Endicott Sears (1863-1960) was born 150 years ago this month. Sears was a wealthy Bostonian who authored several histories and a few long-forgotten novels. Today, she is best remembered as a preservationist and collector of American folk art and Native American art and artifacts.
In 1910, Sears purchased the site of Fruitlands, the failed utopian community founded by Louisa May Alcott’s father Amos Bronson Alcott in 1843. Life at Fruitlands followed principles of Transcendentalism, but the community only lasted a few months due to food shortages, the harsh Massachusetts winter, and interpersonal conflicts among the members. Louisa May Alcott satirized this period of her family’s life in a short story called “Transcendental Wild Oats,” first published in 1873.
Sears restored the Fruitlands property and opened it as a museum in 1914. The Louisa May Alcott Collection at L. Tom Perry Special Collections contains copies of Sears’ publications related to Fruitlands, including a history of the community (shown here), an early catalog of the Fruitlands Museum’s holdings, and previously unpublished Alcott poems in the Fruitlands Museum collection.