Sara Holmes Boutelle was born in South Dakota and graduated from Mount Holyoke College. She also attended the Sorbonne and Hamburg University. She taught art and architectural history at the Brearley School in New York City for many years. She also spent many years of her life researching and collecting material by and about the architect Julia Morgan, one of the first successful female architects in the USA. Her biographical work, Julia Morgan, Architect, published in 1988, was awarded the California Book Award Silver Medal the following year. Ms. Boutelle also wrote on articles on Julia Morgan and Mary Colter for scholarly publications, presented papers at Society of Architectural Historians meetings, and wrote book reviews for the American Institute of Architects Journal. After her retirement from Brearley, she moved to California and lectured on the history of women in American architecture at the University of California-Santa Cruz. In 1991, she was named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, the highest award given by the organization to a non-architect.