Alice Morse Earle was born Mary Alice Morse in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1874, she married Henry Earle, with whom she had four children, and adopted the name Alice Morse Earle. The family lived in Brooklyn, New York. Alice began writing for publication at the suggestion of her father when she was 40 years old. Her interest in her own family’s past, and in antiques of the colonial period, was supplemented by painstaking research. She produced a total of 17 books as well as numerous articles, pamphlets, and speeches about home life -- in particular, the manners, social customs, and material culture -- of colonial New England. These included The Sabbath in Puritan New England (1891),
China Collecting in America (1892),
Customs and Fashions in Old New England (1893), and Costume of Colonial Times (1894).
Her work coincided with and helped encourage a surge of interest in American's colonial past and antique collecting. In 1909, she was a passenger aboard a ship off the coast of Nantucket bound for Egypt when it collided with another in dense fog. During the transfer of passengers, she fell into the water and nearly drowned. Her health never recovered, and she died two years later.