Frances Clary Morse was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, to a wealthy and distinguished family with Quincy and Adams forebears. Both her parents were devoted amateur horticulturists and grew prize-winning fruit and flowers in their garden. Her sister Alice Morse Earle wrote 18 books on gardening and colonial life. Frances wrote only one book, her pioneering Furniture of the Olden Time (1902), published when she was 47, which was monumental in scope and authority. It represented a lifetime of collecting, travel, and research on furniture and musical instruments made in America. It was richly illustrated with photographs, many of which showed pieces owned by the author or members of her family. The book was reissued in 1936 and reprinted in 2010 in paperback. She was the founder and first president of the Worcester Garden Club.