Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 05: Administration – Board of Trustees


Member, PMSS Board of Trustees, c. 1937-1946

TAGS: Dorothy Olcott Elsmith ; Board of Trustees ; Mary R. Boo ; William James Olcott ; Smith College ; Columbia University ; Dr. Frederick Gates ; Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research ; Dr. Leonard Elsmith ; folk music ; swimming pool ; Silver Jubilee Benefit Performance ;

Born in Bessemer, Michigan, on June 20, 1891, Dorothy Olcott Elsmith lived a rich and active ninety-three years. According to Mary R. Boo in her article, “A City Filled With Music,” her parents, William James Olcott and Fannie Bailey, also lived for a time in Minnesota where her father served as president of both the Oliver Mining Company and the Duluth, Missabe and Northern Railroad.

In 1909 Dorothy went to Northampton, Massachusetts, to study at Smith College, where she came into contact with many women who were active in the Settlement School movement of the time. She graduated from Smith in 1913 and then continued her studies at Columbia University in New York, graduating with an M.A. in 1917.

She was married twice. Her first husband, Dr. Frederick Gates, was a graduate of Yale University and later of Johns Hopkins University where he received his medical degree in 1913. Dorothy met Dr. Gates while he was employed as a researcher at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in Duluth, a job that later took the family to New York City and later to Pelham, New York. In 1926 the family purchased a home in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, that became a stable location for the family which now numbered five children. The family named the Woods Hole cottage “Olcottage,” and later “Herb Cottage.” In 1928 Dr. Gates was called to Harvard University to teach, but the stay there was very short when Dr. Gates unexpectedly died from a concussion following a fall in his laboratory at the Rockefeller Institute in June of 1933. The five children are now all deceased with the exception of Frederick Taylor Gates, Jr.

Children of Frederick & Dorothy:

1. Olcott “Ollie” b. 19 Mar 1919, d 27 Jul 1999
2. Barbara b. 17 Jan 1921, d. 3 May 1993
3. Frederick Taylor b. 14 Feb 1923
4. Dorothy b. 27 Jun 1924, d. 19 Jun 1993
5. Deborah b. 27 Mar 1927, d. 8 Dec 1990

Not long after the death of Dr. Gates, Dorothy married Dr. Leonard Elsmith, a musician and composer and a graduate of Harvard (A.B., 1912) and New York University (PhD, 1919). He had been a close friend of Dorothy and Dr. Gates.  One of the specialties of Dr. Elsmith was folk music and he frequently lectured on the topic. He was instrumental in bringing students from Pine Mountain to New York for a concert of Appalachian music and song. Their marriage ended in divorce and they had no children.

Dorothy became a member of the Board of Trustees at Pine Mountain in 1935 or 1937 and remained on the Board until 1946,

According to a Pine Mountain Settlement School’s historical record, Mrs. Elsmith and her children donated to the renovation of the swimming pool in 1938 – 1939. She was a member of the PMSS Board of Trustees from c. 1937 until c. 1946. As the chairman of a committee, she oversaw the supervision of the Silver Jubilee Benefit Performance in New York, NY, to celebrate PMSS’s 25th anniversary in 1938.

In 1957 Dorothy Elsmith built another home in Woods Hole and this home she called “Ros Marinus” which roughly translates as “sea dew” and is Latin for “rosemary.” Like the earlier cottage, Ros Marinus had extensive gardens and served as a site for entertaining her many friends.

Glyn Morris speaks of her in his autobiography as a “tremendously interesting person.” At the time of the writing of his autobiography Mrs. Elsmith was 81 and Morris notes that she had just completed a trip near to the Artic Circle. It was one of many that she generally took each year.

Morris also notes that Elsmith sponsored an event during the Silver Jubilee [75th Anniversary]of Pine Mountain in 1938, in New York.  Students were part of a program of singing and dancing at Town Hall in New York City that led to an additional venue at WEAF in New York, which was at the time, according to Morris, “the most prestigious radio station in the country.” [Morris, Less Traveled Roads] p.344]

Dorothy Elsmith died on January 29, 1984, at the age of 93.


Dorothy Olcott Elsmith

Alt. Title

Dorothy Olcott




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Helen Hayes Wykle

Subject Keyword

Dorothy Olcott ; Dorothy Olcott Elsmith ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Board of Trustees ; T.S. Eliott ; Woods Hole, MA ; Mary R. Boo ; William James Olcott ; Fannie Bailey ; Oliver Mining Company ; Duluth, Missabe and Northern Railroad ; Smith College ; Columbia University ; Dr. Frederick Gates ; Yale University ; Johns Hopkins University ; Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research ; Olcottage ; Herb Cottage ; Harvard University ; Dr. Leonard Elsmith ; New York University ; folk music ; Appalachian music and song ; Ros Marinus ; gardens ; Bessemer, MI ; Duluth, MN ; Northampton, MA ; New York, NY ; Pelham, NY ; Woods Hole, MA ; swimming pool ; Silver Jubilee Benefit Performance ;

Subject LCSH

Elsmith, Dorothy Olcott, — 1891 – 1984.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.

Date Digital

2008-10-23 ; 2013-12-03 ;


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet


Series 5: Administration — Board of Trustees




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 5: Administration — Board of Trustees ; Lyndall Gordon ; T.S. Eliot ;

Coverage Temporal

1891 – 1984

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Bessemer, MI ; Duluth, MN ; Northampton, MA ; New York, NY ; Pelham, NY ; Woods Hole, MA ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School, Inc., Harlan County, KY. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Dorothy Olcott Elsmith ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Dorothy Olcott Elsmith ; Biography of Dorothy Olcott Elsmith who served on the Pine Mountain Settlement School Board of Trustees ;




Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2007-07-12 hhw ; 2008-10-27 hhw ; 2013-12-03 hhw ; 2013-12-08 aae ; 2016-06-22 aae ;



Boo, Mary R. “A City Filled with Music: 100 Years of Duluthʼs Matinee Musicale.” (accessed 2013-12-08). Internet resource.

Dorothy Olcott Elsmith Papers, 1909-1979. Class of 1913. Smith College Archives. 2 boxes (.8 linear feet). Collection number: RG 80. (accessed 2013-12-08). Archival material.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063
Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886     Email:

Wedding details:

“Dorothy Olcott Elsmith Correspondence.” Series 05: Administration – Board of Trustees. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Archival material.

Selected books & articles written by Dorothy Olcott Elsmith:

Elsmith, Dorothy O. Dorothy Olcott Papers, 1909-1979. 2 boxes (.8 linear ft.). Smith College Archives. Archival material.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. Episodes of a Fabulous Summer (July 1 – October 1 1959). D.O. Elsmith, 1959. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. Episodes of a Superior Summer, August 1969. Woods Hole, MA: D.O. Elsmith, 1969. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. Family Favorites: Foods and Flavors, Facts and Fancies from Olcottage. Woods Hole, MA: D.O. Elsmith, 1951. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. Family Festivals 1956. D.O. Elsmith, 1956. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. From Log House to Glass House: A Chronicle of Seven Decades 1891-1961. Newton, MA: Modern Print. Co., 1961. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. “Lake Superior Memories.” Inland Seas. 36.2 (June 1980): 96-100. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. The Mighty Mackenzie: A Journey ‘Up South’, September, 1972. Newton, Mass.?: D.O. Elsmith, 1972. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O., and Frederick L. Gates. Pull on a Parka and Join the Circle: Record of an Arctic Expedition, August 1970. Woods Hole, MA: Elsmith, 1970. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. Random Reminiscences of Kith and Kin in Celebration of an Eighty-Fifth Birthday and a Family Reunion of Four Generations. D.O. Elsmith, 1976. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. Ros Marinus: Recollections, Refreshments, Recipes, Reflections 1971. D.O. Elsmith, 1971. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. Saga of Dorothy the Lucky Following the Viking Trail: Island-Groenland, August 1971. Newton, Mass.?: D.O. Elsmith, 1971. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. The Story of a Flying Coverlet. Ros Marinus, Woods Hole, MA: D.O. Elsmith, 1977. Print.

Elsmith, Dorothy O. A Wreath of Recipes from Olcottage. D.O. Elsmith, Christmas 1951. Print.