Aunt Rose Curcio’s glove industry career

Third in a series on my Italian-American great grandaunt Rose Curcio of Gloversville, Fulton County, New York, who died 15 years ago this month at the age of 105.

The Oct. 2001 obituary of my Aunt Rosie Curcio contains not only her brief history but a portrait of the changing role of women in the 20th Century. The second paragraph describes her education and her glove industry career.

By: Boston Public Library
Main Street, Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. Aunt Rosie took a new path open to women in the 20th Century when she attended the Gloversville Business School, which prepared her for a long, productive glove industry career By: Boston Public Library

A lifelong resident and a graduate of the Gloversville Business School, she was employed as a secretary and bookkeeper at the former Hilts Willard Glove Manufacturers in Gloversville until her retirement at age 75.

New prospects for women

When Aunt Rosie was born in 1896, women still wore floor-length dresses. They could not vote and their lives were circumscribed in many ways — both socially and legally.

But social movements in which women played a leading role — from the fight to abolish slavery to the suffrage movement demanding a woman’s right to vote — opened new possibilities for women at the dawn of the 20th Century.

I would love to have been in the household of my great, great grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio when the decision was made that Aunt Rosie — one of their younger daughters — would to go to business school.

Aunt Rosie goes to school

Did Rosie ask to go or did her parents suggest it? Did economic necessity drive the decision or was she ambitious? However it came about, off to school she went — and by the time of the 1920 U.S. Census (excerpted below) Rosie, 23, was working as a stenographer in a glove factory office.

1920 U.S. Census of the Curcio household at 128 East Fulton St. in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.    Source: Family Search
Person No. Name Role Age Occupation
33 Antonio Curcio Head 66 None
34 Antoinette Curcio Wife 61 None
35 John Curcio Son 26 Chauffeur, Vegetable Truck
36 Rose Curcio Dau 23 Stenographer, Glove Factory Office
37 Josephine Curcio Dau 17 Glove Maker, Glove Shop

The census also shows several boarders living in the Curcio’s 128 East Fulton Street home — the Santos family and  Alexander S. Davey, a baker — likely providing rental income.

Family head Dean P. Santos worked as a junk collector in a junk shop. He may have worked in the shop then operated next door by my great grandfather Peter [DiLorenzo] Laurence, whose wife Mamie was the Curcio’s oldest daughter.

So Aunt Rosie’s income, enhanced by her education, was surely helpful to her family. She was later promoted to bookkeeper and decided to keep working beyond her retirement age.

“Why work so long?” my mom and I asked her during an oral history interview in 1992. Aunt Rosie told us she felt good, so why not? And besides, what would she do with herself if she was not working? Spoken like a working woman proud of her career!

Up next, Aunt Rosie’s family and social life. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Aunt Rose Curcio’s glove industry career”

  1. I’m with Aunt Rosie–why not keep working? Interesting that her job started with going to business school…I have some stenographers and bookkeepers in my family’s past; I wonder if they went to school for it as well.

    1. The option without business school would likely have been a lower-paid position doing glove and leather work, which some of Rosie’s siblings and my other Gloversville, N.Y., ancestors did. Maybe Rosie was good in school and, with new opportunities open for women, she was able to continue her education to train for office work. You may want to check business school records where your stenographers and bookkeepers lived. Never know what you’ll find!

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