Skip to main content

Rosetta Gordon Bell Wolcott papers

Identifier: COU:1750

Scope and Contents

The Rosetta Wolcott Collection includes autograph books from 1886-1892, diaries from 1905-1970, miscellaneous photographs, scrapbooks, school materials, and personal memorabilia. The collection is organized alphabetically, and contains an oversize folder which houses 2 lithographs and a number of portraits. The diaries are original manuscripts in small booklets, most are annual but some of them contain multiple years. The first portion of this collection contains general correspondence, while the second and third contain Ms. Wolcott’s diaries. The last portion begins with photographs and refers to Rosetta Wolcott’s public life, a subject that also continues into the last portion of the collection, in which are found Ms. Wolcott’s school books.


  • Creation: 1904 - 1970

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Biographical / Historical

Rosetta Gordon Lipsia Bell was born October 29, 1879, in Leipzig, Germany. Her father, James Washington Bell, was studying for his doctorate in political science. He was of Scotch Canadian descent. Her mother, Delphine Paradis, descent of French Huguenot immigrants to the New World, had gone to Toronto to visit French-speaking cousins, and this is where she met her future husband. His parents, the Reverend and Mrs. William Bell, did not approve the match, however, and disinherited their son.

Undaunted, the newlyweds toured Europe on bicycles before settling in Leipzig, on Johann Sebastian Bach Strasse, to earn their way through the Ph.D. and support their two children by giving English lessons. The family then came to Boulder, Colorado, where Dr. Bell hoped for an appointment to the faculty of the newly established university, and health for himself and his family in the dry, sunny Colorado air. The appointment did not materialize, and so the Bells went to Geneva, Switzerland, where Rosetta and her brother William entered school, learning the three R’s in both French and German.

At age 11, Rosetta returned with her parents, her brother, and two sisters to Boulder where her father had been appointed to the faculty. He was the first professor with a Ph.D. degree. She was enrolled in school speaking no English, but, she said, she enjoyed sliding down the banisters of Old Main with President Sewall’s little daughter. That same year, her father died of a hemorrhage in his lungs. Rosetta remembers her mother gathering the children around his bed to recite the Lord’s Prayer. One child was not yet born.

The family continued to live at 193 Mapleton, planting fruit trees and caring for chickens and a large garden, which provided them with food all summer long. The University asked Mrs. Bell to teach French. This was the beginning of a life-long friendship with Dr, and Mrs. Brackett, dean of the graduate school, and Miss Mary Rippon, first lady of the faculty.

Rosetta was 17 when the famous flood of Boulder Creek cut the town in half and prevented her from attending classes at Highland school, then the University preparatory school. This, she said, did not bother her at all.

As she and her younger brothers and sisters, (William, Cleophile, Geneva, and James), were growing up, their home became a gathering place for friends and schoolmates. They took turns presenting plays, recitals, duets, and quartets. Rosetta played the piano well, as did her sisters, and the whole family loved to sing. While a student at the university, she was pianist for the chapel services at Old Main, and when the accompanist for a tenor in the artists’ series could not keep his engagement, she filled in for him on short notice and won the singer’s admiring gratitude. She frequently appeared on programs of the Friday Musical Club, which met at the Methodist Church. She sang in the Messiah and in university operettas, and sometimes had a leading role in a Shakespeare play, which was given on the lawn just east of Old Main.

She gave private piano lessons for many years, and in the summer taught children conversational French and German. She used songs and folk dances, and early application of the direct method of language teaching.

After her graduation from CU-Boulder, Rosetta accepted a position as private tutor and companion to Kate Fowler, child of a wealthy Pasadena, California family. She spent several months with them in travel and study in France.

In 1908 she married Charles A. Wolcott. Their three children, C. Evelyn, C. Gordon, and Roland H., are all CU-Boulder graduates. Evelyn resides in Boulder; Gordon in La Jolla, California; Roland in Boulder Canyon.

She joined the staff of the department of Romance languages at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1920, having been Miss Rippon’s assistant in German many years earlier. A friend and colleague during these years of teaching was Mrs. Miriam Rieder. Rosetta obtained her master’s degree and organized two trips to Europe for students and friends, besides continuing her duties as homemaker and mother. After her retirement from assistant professor in 1948 she continued to serve the University as correspondence instructor in French and Spanish in the Extension Division, and students in need of tutoring continued to come to her home.

She was a member of Asaph, an honorary music society; Pi Beta Phi sorority; and of several professional organizations. During her retirement she enjoyed her music, her garden, and her home, which continued to be a gathering place for her children and grandchildren.

She died in 1974 in Boulder at the age of 94, her husband having preceded her death in 1957.


1.5 linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Rosetta Wolcott, wife of Charles A. Wolcott, was a teaching assistant for Mary Rippon at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in 1920 joined the staff of the Romance Language Dept., retiring as Assistant Professor in French and Spanish in 1948. She then served as a correspondence instructor in the Extension Division. She also traveled to Europe on several occasions. Papers include diaries for the years 1904-1909, 1948-1970; autograph books from 1888 and 1891; and memorabilia.

Reprocessed and Reformatted by: Carolyn Michaels, February 2007 Re-housed and Reformatted by: Rebecca Henderson April 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States