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Louis Martin Sears papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 338

Scope and Contents

The Louis Martin Sears papers document the professional career, personal life, and family history of historian and author Louis Martin Sears. Types of materials in the collection include writings by Sears, correspondence, research materials, and Sears family materials.


  • 1858 - 1960
  • Majority of material found within 1902 - 1943


Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright held by Purdue University and public domain. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Author and historian Louis Martin Sears was born in Chicago on June 4, 1885. His mother died during childbirth so he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Louise Hawley Martin.

Sears received Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago, which awarded him its Alumni Citation for Public Service in 1950. Sears joined the faculty of Purdue University as an assistant professor in 1920. Prior to coming to Purdue0, he taught in high schools at Birmingham, Alabama; Joliet, Illinois; and Chicago.

Sears became an associate professor at Purdue in 1922, and was promoted to a full professor of history in 1925. He was a Phi Beta Kappa Asociate, a fellow of the Royal Historial Society of Great Britain. He primarily wrote about the United States diplomatic history. In 1953, Sears received the Sigma Delta Chi "Best Teacher" award, and he was commencement speaker to the 1955 graduating class of Purdue University. In addition to his teaching duties at Purdue, Sears taught summer terms at the University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of West Virginia, University of Cincinnati, University of Wisconsin, and New York University. He also taught for a full year at Duke University.

After retiring from Purdue in 1956, Sears went to Washington, D.C. to complete work on several books he was writing. Sears authored several history texts and numerous journal articles, primarily relating to United States diplomatic history. Some of his books include John Slidell, Jefferson and the Embargo, A History of American Foreign Relations, George Washington, and George Washington and the French Revolution. Sears was active in the Indiana and Mississippi Valley historical societies, the American Historical Association, and the Academy of Political Science. He was a fellow of the Royal History Society of Great Britain, a member of the University of Chicago Literary Society, the Cosmos Club in Washington, and Phi Beta Kappa. He was an honorary member of the Purdue chapters of Sigma Delta Chi, Scabbard and Blade, Phi Gamma Mu, Alpha Phi Omega, and the Town and Gown Club of Lafayette, Indiana. Dr. Sears was Professor Emeritus of History at Purdue when he died on May 14, 1960, in George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C. Sears is buried in Lockport Cemetery in Lockport, Illinois. He never married.


1.453 Cubic Feet (Four cubic foot boxes, four letter-size full-width manuscript boxes, and three shoe boxes)

Language of Materials



The Sears papers are arranged into five series:

I. Writings by Sears, 1911-1960. The Writings series includes journal articles and reprints, typescripts, books, critical reviews, speeches, commencement addresses, talks for conference proceedings, course papers, essays, and memoirs. Also included in this series are two sets of meeting minutes of the Parlor Club taken by Sears in 1946.

II. Correspondence, 1906-1959. The Correspondence series includes incoming and outgoing correspondence relating to Sears' various writing projects and communication between family members.

III. Research Materials, 1935-1957. The Research Materials series includes Sears' notes and references to sources used by him in his writings and research.

IV. Personal Materials. The Personal Material series includes journal articles, pamphlets, photographs, and other assorted materials given to Sears or collected by him.

V. Sears Family Materials. The Sears Family series includes his father's will, his grandmother's journal, photographs, and correspondence between family members.

Acquisition Information

The collection was first donated in 2005. Additional materials were donated by Leslie Ray Sears III on January 28, 2019.

Processing Information

Addition 1 was integrated into the existing collection in 2021, increasing the collection from previously 4 cubic boxes to 4 cubic boxes, 4 manuscript-sized boxes, and 3 shoe-box size boxes for a total of 11 boxes. Additionally, a previously separated photograph of Sears has been reintegrated to the collection.
Louis Martin Sears papers
In Progress
Sammie Morris, Keertana Marella, and Grace Anderson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Fourth edition. Collection description was first completed 2005-03-10.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States