Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Dorothy Bolles, PMSS Dance Instructor 1925-1935
Dorothy Fairfax Bolles (1885-1935)


“Set running.” Ben Turner (in white; far right, Glyn Morris; seated, Miss Dorothy Bolles and Miss Evelyn Wells. Kentucky Running Set, 1934. [boarding_school_767a.jpg]

TAGS: Dorothy Bolles, Dorothy Fairfax Bolles, Cecil Sharp, American Country Dance and Song Society [CDSS], English Folk Dance Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Helen Osborne Storrow, philanthropy, A. Claud Wright, dance instructors, morris dancing, sword dancing, Berea College, Pine Tree Camp, Long Pond, Pinewoods Camp, Girl Scout camps, Ritchie Family, John C. Campbell, Russell Sage Foundation, Olive Dame Campbell, Evelyn K. Wells, National Girl Scout Leaders’ Training School, Hindman Settlement School, folk music, ballads, mountain music, folk dance


Teacher, Dance instructor, Publicity 1925-1935

Dorothy Fairfax Bolles’ association with Pine Mountain began as a visit but became a long-lasting relationship with the School until her premature death in 1935. A protege of the well-known English musicologist and folk-song collector, Cecil Sharp, Bolles’ first contact with Pine Mountain Settlement School was through her early association with the Boston branch of the American Country Dance and Song Society [CDSS] or the English Folk Dance Society sometime in 1915, or after. Both societies were active in Boston where several Pine Mountain staff had contact with the Society and were enthusiastic dancers. Ethel de Long, Evelyn K. Wells, Maya Sudo, Abby Winch Christensen, and others were charmed by this form of recreation and helped to push the activity at the School.


The Bolles family, part of America’s earliest immigrants, had a home on Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay area of Boston, where Dorothy lived comfortably. Her father Richard Fairfax Bolles, a native Bostonian, was a broker and her mother, Mary (Kendall) Bolles was also born in Boston to a wealthy family. She was the daughter of Joseph S. Kendall and Ellen (King) Kendall. Joseph Kendall was a wealthy dry goods merchant. It was in the Kendall home that the Bolles family lived and where Dorothy Bolles and her sister grew up. Dorothy had one sister, Barbara Bolles, born August 13, 1890. Dorothy Fairfax Bolles, born June 18, 1885, was the older of the two children.


Dorothy’s first knowledge of Pine Mountain Settlement possibly came through Boston’s network of urban settlement houses, some of the first in the nation. She and her family were also active in the Boston chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) which had long been a supporter of Pine Mountain Settlement School. This last association is the most likely her early connection with the School. In Dorothy Bolles’ later correspondence with Pine Mountain, she refers to promotional work for the settlement school with the Boston D.A.R., suggesting that there were common contacts through the organization. Both Katherine Pettit and Ethel de Long Zande were deeply engaged with the D.A.R. and regularly tapped memberships in the cities of the North East for donations to the School.

Helen Osborne Storrow

However, another important and long-lasting connection of Dorothy Bolles with Pine Mountain came from her early encounter with another Bostonian, Mrs. Helen Osborne Storrow (1864-1944). Mrs. Storrow, a wealthy and influential philanthropist, had traveled in Europe and made the acquaintance of Cecil Sharp who was then recognized as the leading authority on English Country dance forms. Storrow brought her fascination with English Country Dancing home to Boston and eventually brought Cecil Sharp to America under her patronage. Using her extensive network of women’s social organizations, she began instruction in the English Country Dance form on her lawn at Lincoln, near Boston.

A. Claud Wright, Louise Chapin, Lily Conant

As the program grew Mrs. Storrow enlisted the assistance of A. Claud Wrightan English Country Dance instructor, trained by Sharp and described as a “very attractive man.” Storrow arranged for him to first come and teach classes at her estate in Lincoln in 1913, and later in Boston after the founding of the Boston Centre. At Lincoln, Dorothy and her new friend, Louise Chapin, and others were charmed by Wright and with the new physical exercise form and its English heritage. As Dorothy’s interest grew, she arranged with her friend Louise to travel to England where she could study directly with Cecil Sharp and Wright at Sharp’s summer dance school in London. Both she and Louise Chapin were enthusiastic and able proteges.

Louise Chapin, Dorothy’s friend, came to the Storrow estate in 1913 or 1914, and on Mrs. Storrow’s lawn at Lincoln, outside Boston, she and Dorothy became adept dancers and enthusiasts. The two adventurous young women then went to England to Cecil Sharp’s summer dance school, learning directly from Sharp and coming back to teach in the Boston Centre. Louise Chapin soon became the head teacher of the Boston Centre, following Lily Conant’s marriage. It is reported that Louise Chapin in Boston and May Gadd in New York were known as the “grande dames” of English dancing in their respective cities. Dorothy Bolles also taught in Boston and at the Amherst summer dance schools. In the early decades of the Boston Centre, the New York centers, and other folk dance centers, the classes were subscribed classes, with some separated by gender and age; some more ritualistic, engaging Morris and Sword dancing and some more English Country dancing. Dorothy was trained by all the best dancers of the English Folk Dance Society.

Mrs. Storrow’s summer dance parties on her estate lawn in Lincoln with A. Claud Wright as an instructor soon expanded into another site, the “Boston Centre,” where young women in the city of Boston could be taught English Country dancing in a more formal setting. Led initially by Lily Conant, another protege of Cecil Sharp who, like Wright, had been sent from England in 1913, to promote the English Folk Dance Society in America. Lily and Mrs. Storrow became fast friends and under Conant’s direction, the Boston Centre thrived. By this time, 1913, both Bolles and Chapin, recently returned from England, were able dancers and instructors and when Lily Conant married and her activity was redirected for a time, Chapin was appointed lead instructor at the Boston Center. English Country dancing, Morris and Sword dancing were all taught at the Boston Centre, and the courses converted a number of women to the new recreation.

May Gadd

While Louise Chapin has been described as the “grande dame” of English country dancing in Boston, May Gadd was acknowledged as the leader of English Country Dance in New York. May Gadd had been sent to New York from England in 1927 by the English Folk Dance Society to head the society’s American branch at the New York Center. She and Storrow, the titular head of the American Branch, also became fast friends. May Gadd became a regular visitor at Berea, eventually leading the Christmas Dance School there. She also came to Pine Mountain and other settlement schools several times in her later years. May Gadd, as a mutual friend of Lily Conant, Louise Chapin and Dorothy Bolles, is credited along with Conant and their benefactor Storrow as founders of one of the most long-lived centers of English Folk dance — the Pine Tree Camp on Storrow’s property at Long Pond near Plymouth —later Pinewoods Camp. Pinewoods later became synonymous with English Country Dancing. 

It was at the early Pine Tree Camp that the lives of Helen Osborne Storrow, Dorothy Bolles, Louise Chapin, and May Gadd (“Gay”), all came together. The history of the camp as part of the many Girl Scout camps that Storrow helped to establish and later as a center of English Country Dancing, holds significant importance for Pine Mountain Settlement School.

The Ritchie Family

Both English Country Dance and Girl Scouting became a central focus of the early years of the school for the young girl students. Una Ritchie, for example, whose sisters attended Pine Mountain Settlement School, was one of the children of the famous “Singing Family of the Cumberlands.” On the recommendation of Katherine Pettit, she was sent to Long Pond for a summer as a counselor and dance teacher. If any family knew about “frolics” and music in the Southern Appalachians, and also had a long exposure to the influences of persuasive Anglo-centric promoters, it would be the Ritchies. The fourteen-member family was educated either at Hindman Settlement School or at Pine Mountain — with the exception of Jean Ritchie whose early education was in her local community. Una Ritchie studied at Hindman and Wellesley College and also with many of the masters of English Country Dancing at Long Pond. Wilbur, Patty, Edna, Jewel, and Pauline, as well as May Ritchie, the oldest daughter, were all in school at Pine Mountain Settlement. Katherine Pettit was a strong supporter of Una, whom she knew from Hindman, as evidenced in this excerpt from a letter to Bolles.

 Katherine Pettit to Dorothy Bolles. “This is to introduce you to Una Ritchie…she is a sister of Patty and Mrs. Deschamp [May Ritchie] and a very wonderful girl. She graduates Wellesley next year, Well do I remember the day when she first came to me a long time ago at Hindman when she was nine years old! … She is very good at doing all the things Mr. Sharp taught her when he was at Hindman.”

Long Pond was Storrow’s acreage and a camp she created for the Girl Scouts of America. She soon made sure that it was a Girl Scout camp that promoted English Country Dancing, Morris and Sword dancing for girls. May Gadd, often a teacher there, was sent from England to America by the English Folk Dance Society where she was charged to maintain the standards that society expected of the English Folk Dance Society. In 1933, Pinewoods came under the direction of Lily Conant and her husband. When Mrs. Storrow died in 1944, the property was bequeathed to Lily and Richard Conant. They had been Mrs. Storrow’s very close friends ever since their arrival in America when Lily had been sent by Cecil Sharp in 1915, as a teacher of English Country Dance and Morris for the American Branch of the English Country Dance Society in Boston. 

Cecil Sharp, John C. and Olive Dame Campbell

It was also Mrs. Storrow, the philanthropist, who financially supported Cecil Sharp’s journey to the U.S., and who introduced Sharp to her Boston friends. Storrow was familiar with John C. Campbell‘s work with the Russell Sage Foundation and with the Campbells’ travels and work in Kentucky. It was through the recommendations of John C. And his wife, Olive Dame Campbell, that Storrow encouraged Cecil Sharp to come to Eastern Kentucky and to Pine Mountain. It was through this interconnected network of friends that Bolles eventually found her way to Kentucky in the early 1920s. It is not known just when her first visit to the School occurred and there is little in her correspondence at Pine Mountain to shed light on this matter. [Read more about Cecil Sharp and his trip to Pine Mountain with Maude Karpeles].

In the staff correspondence of the early 1920s, there is an interesting note by Evelyn K. Wells that “Mrs. James J. Storrow of Boston and Margaret Coolidge of Milton, arrived [at the School] for the [Girl Scout] doings. (Mrs. Storrow, [she tells us] heads all the country dancing activities and practically financed Cecil Sharp on his mountain expeditions.)”

Wells then describes the evening activities for Mrs. Storrow in the Spring of 1921:

That night, in the dining room after supper and some Scout ceremonies, eight girls did a sword dance, wearing white middy suits and red ties, and then ten of the older children ran a set and we all sang some ballads. Then the workers adjourned to the School House for more dancing, learning one beautiful new one from Mrs. Storrow and ending up with cakes and cocoa.

As a very active supporter of the Girl Scouts, Mrs. Storrow established Pine Tree Camp on her property at Long Pond, in Plymouth, as the first National Girl Scout Leaders’ Training School. In 1921 she served as the President of the Girl Scouts of America.

It is not known if Mrs. Storrow made the journey to Pine Mountain before Dorothy Bolles or if Bolles had already visited the School. But, Bolles’ activity with the Boston branch of the Society brought her to Kentucky in the early 1920s where she observed a very active English Country Dance scene in programs at Berea, Hindman, and later at Pine Mountain. 


Dorothy Bolles came to Pine Mountain annually until 1934. Her plans to come for the 1935 Spring instruction were interrupted by hospitalization for an unknown illness. And, in September of 1935, the campus was notified by her mother, Mary K. Bolles, that Dorothy Booles had died.

“… a loss which no words can express. Life without her can never be the same to me. With much gratitude for your thought of her, I am ….Mary K. Bolles

GALLERY: Dorothy Bolles

For More About Dorothy Bolles:

DOROTHY BOLLES Correspondence Guide 1925 to 1935

DOROTHY BOLLES Correspondence I 1925 to 1930
DOROTHY BOLLES Correspondence II 1931 to 1935

See Also:

CECIL SHARP AND MAUDE KARPELES Visit to PMSS (By the Editors: Helen Wykle and Ann Angel Eberhardt)

JAMES GREENE Account of Cecil Sharp and Maude Karpeles at PMSS
PETER ROGERS Account of Cecil Sharp and Maude Karpeles at PMSS

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH: ENGLISH Country Dance at PMSS (Post – Photograph Gallery)


MAY GADD Visitor


Dorothy Bolles

Alt. Title

Dorothy Fairfax Bolles



Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Dorothy Bolles ; Dorothy Fairfax Bolles ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Cecil Sharp ; American Country Dance and Song Society [CDSS] ; English Folk Dance Society ; urban settlement houses ; Daughters of the American Revolution ; Helen Osborne Storrow ; philanthropy ; A. Claud Wright ; dance instructors ; Boston Center ; Louise Chapin ; Lily Conant ; May Gadd ; folk dance centers ; Morris dancing ; Sword dancing ; Berea College ; Pine Tree Camp ; Long Pond ; Pinewoods Camp ; Girl Scout camps ; Una Ritchie ; Ritchie Family ; John C. Campbell ; Russell Sage Foundation ; Olive Dame Campbell ; Evelyn K. Wells ; National Girl Scout Leaders’ Training School ; Hindman Settlement School ; folk music ; ballads ; mountain music ; folk dance ;

Subject LCSH

Bolles, Dorothy Fairfax, —  1885 June 18 – 1935 September.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Dance — Kentucky — Harlan County
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Folk dance music — Appalachian Region.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Text ; image ;


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


Series 9: Biography – Staff/Personnel ;




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 9: Biography – Staff/Personnel

Coverage Temporal

1921 – 1935

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;

Pine Mountain, KY ; Boston, MA ; Lincoln, MA ; London, England ; New York, NY ; Berea, KY ; Plymouth, MA ; Hindman, KY ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. 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 Fairfax Bolles; clippings, photographs, books by or about Dorothy Fairfax Bolles.




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Processed by

Helen Hayes Wykle; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last updated

2017-09-24 hhw; 2022-06-04 aae;


Some personal papers and collections of Dorothy Fairfax Bolles are located in The Country Dance and Song Society Archives and Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives, Special Collections & Archives at Hutchins Library, Berea (KY) College.

The selected bibliography below provides some indication of the wide network of contacts and colleagues in the scholarly world of folksong studies that Bolles contributed to during her career.

May Gadd.

Wells, Evelyn K. The Ballad Tree: A Study of British and American Ballads, Their Folklore, Verse and Music, Together with Sixty Traditional Ballads and Their Tunes. New York: Ronald Press, 1950. Print.

Wells, Evelyn K. Cecil Sharp in America. London: English Folk Dance and Song Society. 1959. Print.


Coffin, Tristram P. The British Traditional Ballad in North America. Philadelphia: Publications of the American Folklore Society, Bibliographical and Special Series 2, (1950, revised edition, 1963). Print.

Flanders, Helen Hartness, Tristram P. Coffin, and Bruno Nettl. Ancient Ballads Traditionally Sung in New England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1960-1965. Print.

Green, Archie. Green Fields of Illinois, an LP record of traditional folk music performed by artists from southern Illinois. Champaign-Urbana, IL: Campus Folksong Club, University of Illinois, 1963. Sound recording.

Lomax, John A. Adventures of a Ballad Hunter. New York: Macmillan, 1947. Reviewed by Evelyn K. Wells in Mountain Life & Work. 23 (Winter 1947): 25-26. Print.

Wells, Evelyn K. “A Little True Blue American,” Over Sea and Land: Our Southern Mountains, November 1920, p. 140. Print [Copy on file at PMSS]

Wells, Evelyn K. “Ballad Backgrounds in the Appalachians.” Mountain Life & Work. 23 (Fall 1947): 14-18, 23-24. Print.

Wells, Evelyn K. “Playford Tunes and Broadside Ballads.” Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. 3 (December 1937): 81-91. Print.

Wells, Evelyn K. “Some Currents of British Folk Song in America 1916-1958.” Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. 8 (December 1958): 129-141. Print.

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