A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Who was Marian "Clover" Hooper Adams?

Tintype Adams, Marian Hooper (1843-1885) on horseback at Beverly Farms, Oct. 1869Known to her friends and family as "Clover," Marian Hooper Adams was born in Boston, 13 September 1843, to Robert W. Hooper, an eye doctor, and Ellen (Sturgis) Hooper, a poet and a Transcendentalist. Clover and her two older siblings were raised by her father after Ellen died of tuberculosis when Clover was only five.

Clover married historian and writer Henry Adams, great-grandson of President John Adams, in 1872. They moved to Washington in 1877, where Clover was known for her wit and celebrated salon. She took up photography in 1883 and her work as a portraitist and landscape photographer was admired within her social circle.

After her father's death on 13 April 1885, Clover succumbed to an overwhelming depression and took her own life on 6 December of the same year. Henry Adams commissioned the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to erect a memorial monument to Clover that stands in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

About this Website

This website presents 48 photographs (one entire album) from the Marian Hooper Adams photograph collection, five selected letters from the Hooper-Adams papers, and two letters by Henry Adams (from a new acquisition) in which he reflects on his wife's death. This website also provides information about Clover's approach to photography by presenting a digital facsimile of a notebook Clover kept from May 1883 to January 1884 in which she listed many of her photographs and commented on exposures, lighting,and other technical details.  The display of the notebook includes a transcription of the text provided by Natalie Dykstra. 

Exhibition: 9 February - 2 June 2012

This exhibition features photographs taken by Clover Adams, along with her letters, the notebook she used to record the technical aspects of her photographs, Henry's letters, and other family materials. A Gilded & Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams, 1883-1885 is on display at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The exhibition is free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. 

Read the New Biography

Learn more about Clover Adams—the brilliant Washington hostess, wife of historian Henry Adams, and self-taught photographer—in the book, Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life by Natalie Dykstra.  For more information ...