Manuscript Group 1636, Guide to the Mary and Louise Curcio Collection 1892-1987


Descriptive Summary
Biographical Note
Scope and Content Note
Access Points
Administrative Information

Container List

Curcio related documents

Guide to the Mary and Louise Curcio Collection
MG 1636

The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
Phone: (973) 596-8500 x249
© 2005 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Julia Telonidis.

Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. December 2005. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Curcio, Mary, 1901-ca. 1975.
Title: Mary and Louise Curcio Collection
Dates: 1892-1987
Abstract: Consists primarily of photgraphs, biographical information, identification cards, and school and work-related materials of Mary Curcio (1901-ca. 1975), and Louise Curcio (1904-1987), visually impaired sisters from Newark, N.J. Also includes materials pertaining to their sister, Pauline Curcio Cepreghy, and teacher, Janet G. Paterson.
Quantity: 0.66 linear feet
Collection Number: MG 1636

Biographical Note

Mary and Louise Curcio were two blind sisters born ca. 1900 who lived in Newark, N.J. They were noted for their accomplishments including being the first blind students to graduate from a public school in N.J. They later went on to graduate from Douglass College, Rutgers University and to have successful careers, Mary at the N.J. Commission for the Blind, and Louise as a distinguished piano educator and published author.

Mary Josephine Curcio was born July 10, 1901 to parents Eva Bender and Paul Curcio, in Newark, N.J. Blind since birth, she entered public school for the first time at the age of nine when the first Class for the Blind was opened in the Washington St. Public School (Newark, N.J.) in 1910. Before becoming a student in a sighted class Mary had to master reading, writing braille and typing. Mary became a successful student and was frequently included in the school honor roll. She graduated from grade school in 1917, becoming the first blind person to graduate from a public school in N.J. She attended South Side High School (now Malcolm X High School) and graduated in 1921. She then briefly attended Newark Junior College, and later Douglass College, and graduated in 1925, with honors. Mary was the first blind person to graduate from an accredited college in New Jersey. She then joined the N.J. Commission for the Blind where she worked as an executive secretary for forty-three years. She was also among the first to utilize a Seeing Eye Dog in New Jersey.

Louise Curcio was born in 1904 and was, like her sister, blind since birth. She attended South Side High School and later graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from Douglass College in 1926. She became a noted piano teacher and eventually went on to head the piano department at the Newark Community School of the Arts for 30 years. She was also a published author who wrote more than thirty books on piano instruction. She was an exponent of the “Single Note” theory of piano playing and the “Magic Keys” piano instruction method, which she developed. She was inducted into the Douglass Society (for distinguished alumnae) in 1974. She died on January 1, 1987 in Newark.

Pauline Curcio Cepreghy was the younger sister of Mary and Louise. She also attended South Side High School and later went on to marry and live in Dennisville, N.J.

Janet Gilchrist Paterson, born in 1871, was the first teacher for the blind in the first Class for the Blind in N.J. (Washington St. Public School, Newark). Her first class consisted of ten students, including Mary and Louise Curcio. She, along with fellow teacher Elsie Howard, taught students how to write and read braille and transcribed all their lessons into braille. Paterson seems to have retained a close relationship with the Curcio sisters well into her later years. She died April 1, 1964 at the age of 93.

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Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of photographs of Mary and Louise Curcio and their teacher, Janet Paterson, which span throughout their lives. There are several photograhs of Mary with her Seeing Eye Dog and also a Seeing Eye identification card issued by the Seeing Eye, Inc. in Morristown, N.J. There is a N.J. Commission for The Blind issued transportation pass for Mary and also a copy of the “Senior Optomist” 1921 South Side High School yearbook. There are also copies of Louise’s piano notes and instruction and a staff listing for the Newark Community Center for the Arts, which includes Louise. Accompanying the collection are handwritten notes written by Pauline Curcio Cepreghy, offering details on the lives of Mary and Louise and their teacher, Janet Paterson.

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Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.

Use Restrictions

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.

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Access Points

The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.

Subject Names:

Cepreghy, Pauline Curcio.
Curcio, Louise, 1904-1987.
Curcio, Mary, 1901-ca. 1975.
Howard, Elsie.
Paterson, Janet Gilchrist, 1871-1964.

Subject Organizations:

Douglass College (New Brunswick, N.J.)
Douglass Society.
Malcolm X. Shabazz High School (Newark, N.J.)
New Jersey. Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Newark Community Center for the Arts (Newark, N.J.)
Newark Public Schools
Seeing Eye Inc.
St. Rocco’s Catholic Church (Newark, N.J.)
Washington Street School (Newark, N.J.)

Subject Topics:

Blind musicians–New Jersey–Newark.
Blind teachers–New Jersey–Newark.
Blind–Education–New Jersey–Newark.
Blind–New Jersey–Newark.
Blind–Services for–New Jersey–Newark.
Girls–New Jersey–Newark.
Guide dog schools–New Jersey–Newark.
Guide dogs–New Jersey–Newark.
Music teachers–New Jersey–Newark.
People with visual disabilities–New Jersey–Newark.
Piano–Instruction and study–New Jersey–Newark.
Public schools–New Jersey–Newark.
Students–New Jersey–Newark.
Teachers–New Jersey–Newark.
Women’s colleges–New Jersey–New Brunswick.

Subject Places:

Morristown (N.J.)
New Brunswick (N.J.)
Newark (N.J.)

Document Types:

Identity cards.
Little magazines.
School yearbooks.
Sheet music.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 1635, Mary and Louise Curcio Collection, The New Jersey Historical Society.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Pauline Curcio Cepreghy, 1987.

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Container List

Curcio related documents
Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Mary Curcio materials: photographs of Mary as a girl, as an adult with her guide dog, and at work; Seeing Eye, Inc. identification card; transportation card; biographical sketch; “Senior Optimist” high school publication; and notes. ca. 1910-1987
1 2 Louise Curcio materials: photographs of Louise as a girl in costume and as an adult; Newark Community Center for the Arts school staff list and syllabus; musical notation for piano; obituary and notes. ca. 1910-1987
1 3 Janet Paterson materials: photographs of Janet as a young woman, and as an elderly woman; notes. 1892-1987

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