Ruthchild was born Rochelle Goldberg; her mother was a homemaker and her father a high school teacher. She and her brother grew up in the metropolitan New York area. She received her B.A. from Hofstra College and for four years studied Russian history at the University of Rochester. After passing her orals she spent nine months as an exchange student at the University of Leningrad.
RR later lived in California and in 1969 moved to Boston, where she was a member of Female Liberation and Bread and Roses, and a founder and second president of the Women's Center in Cambridge. She was a faculty member at Cardinal Cushing College in Brookline (1970-72) and at Cambridge-Goddard (also known as Goddard-Cambridge) Graduate School for Social Change (1973-?), and a professor of graduate studies and director of the Russian School at Norwich University in Vermont. Before coming out as a lesbian, RR was married for one year; her married name was Ziegler.
From the guide to the Papers, 1966-1980, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)