Colles was born in New Orleans and married George Wetmore Colles, the son of her father’s business partner. The couple settled in Morristown. A graduate of Abbots Collegiate Institute in New York, Colles served as chair of social sciences at Rutgers Female College (New York). She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and one of the founders of the Women’s Board of the New Jersey Historical Society*. In 1893, Colles researched and wrote the biographies of authors associated with Morristown and compiled notes for another publication that would focus on authors associated with Newark.
*Women’s auxiliary groups attached to cultural institutions allowed females the chance to be active in the public arena. Such groups often founded museums and libraries as well.