Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Anna Wolcott Vaile, 1858-1928

By Tristen Hust, student, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Anna Louise Wolcott Vaile was born in Providence, Rhode Island to Reverend Dr. Samuel Wolcott and Harriet Pope Wolcott in 1858. She was one of eleven children. Her brother Edward O. Wolcott was a United States senator. Her lineage on the Wolcott side traces back to colonial America. She died in 1928 and is buried in the Fairmont Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. Vaile received her education in Wellesley College, a private women's liberal art college in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Vaile spent most of her career under the name of Anna Louise Wolcott, though this changed January 4, 1913 when she married Joel Frederick Vaile. The wedding was secret and "was a most complete surprise even to the intimate friends of the couple" according to the January 9, 1913 issue of Telluride Journal. As she married late in life at 55 years old, Vaile never bore children.

After moving to Denver, Colorado, Vaile became principal to a Denver private school called Wolfe Hall from 1892 to 1898. The following year, she founded and established Wolcott School for Girls in Denver where she became principal from 1899 to 1913. The school ran until 1924, when it was then converted into apartment buildings. Despite the brevity of the school's operation, it was considered one of the best schools in the United States for young women at that time. In 1910, while Vaile was still operating Wolcott's School for Girls, she became the first female regent for the University of Colorado. Vaile's career was an active one as she was the director of the School of American Archaeology and vice-president of the Colorado Society of the American Institute of Archaeology. Further, she participated in many women's clubs. Vail was the director from Colorado of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, state president of the Colorado Society of Colonial Dames, and was a member of the Civil Service Commission by appointment of the governor. In 1908, she was selected as one of the presidential electors with four other women.

Vaile was extremely politically active, even after suffrage was achieved. She was a Republican who had fairly conservative views. Her opinions were well known, and she appeared in the article "Anna Wolcott Vaile Appeals to Women" in the August 15, 1923 edition of the Fort Collins Courier. In it, she appealed to women to "promote their own interests by taking a hand in framing of policies." Specifically, the issue of prohibition was on the foregrounds of this discussion and she herself said "Altho it is my earnest belief that the solution of this problem lies in the home, it remains an undisputable fact that the only effective method in which the drink evil can be ended is by having a living, powerful, active organization to combat it." Vaile urged women to not only vote on the issue, but to discuss it and other problems familiar to women within "club meetings and similar gatherings of women."


"Anna Wolcott Vaile Appeals to Women." Fort Collins Courier, vol. 1, no. 98 (August 15,1923), p. 9.

"Vaile-Wolcotte Wedding Complete Surprise" Telluride Journal, no. 1641 (January 9, 1913), p 8.

Stone, Wilber Fiske, ed. History of Colorado, Vol II. Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1918.

"Anna Wolcott Vaile," Billion Graves. Accessed. April 14, 2017.

Epstein, Vivian. History of Colorado's Women for Young People. Denver: Vivian Sheldon Epstein, 1997, p. 39.

"Anna Louise Wolcott Vaile," Find A Grave (2009),

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. 6. National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. p. 70. [LINK]

"The Wolcott School." What Was Where. Accessed April 14, 2017.!/ll/39.7384262084961,104.971733093262/id/11606/info/details/zoom/14/

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