Women’s History Month – Clara Hapgood Nash

Clara Hapgood Nash, ca. 1893. Clara Holmes Hapgood Nash (January 15, 1839 – March 18, 1921) was an American lawyer who was the first woman admitted to the bar in New England (Maine).

Born Clara Holmes Hapgood in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, she was the fifth of eight children of John and Mary Ann Hosmer Hapgood.[1] On her mother’s side she was related to the sculptor Harriet Hosmer, while on her father’s side she was related to Henry Durant, the founding president of the University of California.[1]

In 1846 the family moved to Acton, the hometown of both of Clara’s parents.[2] Due to ill health, her early schooling was frequently interrupted, but she eventually graduated from the State Normal School in Framingham, after which she became a teacher in the towns of Acton, Marlborough, and Danvers.[1][2] She also edited a pro-temperance publication, The Crystal Font.[2]

In 1869, she married Frederick Cushing Nash, a Maine lawyer who taught for a time in the nearby South Acton school district. They had a son, Frederick Hapgood Nash.[1]

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