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Sears Family Papers

Identifier: M272


This collection contains the papers of Vera Sears (1912-2008), dance instructor at the University of Denver, and her husband Edwin Sears (1903-1964), a law professor at the University of Denver. The Sears family emigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1930s. These papers include correspondence, photographs, teaching materials, legal materials, clippings, dance notation notebooks, publications, scrapbooks, and audiovisual materials.


  • 1933-2002


Digital Repository

Sears Family Papers

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Biographical / Historical

Edwin Sieradz (later Sears) (b. 1903-d.1964) was born in Poland and received a law degree from the University of Berlin in 1930, where he also served as personal secretary to Albert Einstein. In 1933, Edwin, and many other academics, lost their positions at the University of Berlin due to their Jewish heritage. Edwin married Vera Else Schulze (b. 1912-d. 2008) in 1934, having met her as a part of a performing group, where he played music and Vera danced. Vera and Edwin married somewhat hastily, in advance of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws’ prohibition against ‘mixed race’ and ‘mixed faith’ marriages between non-Jewish and Jewish Germans. Edwin went into hiding and emigrated to the United States in 1936, with Vera emigrating in 1939. The Sears family settled in Denver in 1940, changing their name from ‘Sieradz’ to ‘Sears’ upon realizing that many Americans struggled to pronounce their last name.

In May 1942, Edwin received his law degree from DU and began a position as a law professor. In 1946, Edwin served as an American lawyer in the Nuremberg Trials. Vera studied under German modern dancer founder, Mary Wigman and with German-American modern dance educator and choreographer (and student of Wigman) Hanya Holm. In 1947, Vera was offered a teaching position at the University of Denver in the Dance Department of the Lamont School of Music. Vera directed the Children's Dance Theater and Dance and performed in a dance group run by fellow DU dance educator and DU professor Martha Wilcox. Vera would keep in contact with Mary Wigman, Hanya Holm, and other international dance contacts throughout her life. Edwin died in 1964, and Vera died in 2008. They are buried in Congregation Emanuel Cemetery.


14.25 Linear Feet (13 containers)


The collection is arranged in (4) series. The first two series contain files related to both Edwin and Vera Sears, Photographs and Correspondence. The third series related to Edwin Sears and his time in law and at the University of Denver. The fourth series contains materials related to Vera Sears and her dance career.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were physically brought to Special Collections and Archives by Joan Brown, president of the Friends of Carson-Brierly Dance Library in 2010, but were a gift of Andrea Sears-Van Nest to Joan Brown, the daughter of Vera Sears, a former director of the Children's Dance Theatre at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music Dance Department. A letter received with the accession, dated 2002, indicates that Vera Sears organized the materials with the intent of donating them to the Carson-Brierly Dance Library.


Further accruals are expected.

Related Materials

Additional information about Vera Sears can be found in the following collections in this repository: Friends of The Dance Archive "Legends of Dance" Oral History Project Records (D009.03.0005.00004) and the Marshall and Carolyn Durand Brooks Photography and Dance Collection (D025).

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428