Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Boarding and Lodging Houses

Maria Innocenza Procopio Siciliano

a black and white photograph of Maria Innocenza Procopio Siciliano and two unidentified men sitting on the stoop of a rowhouse

Maria Innocenza Procopio Siciliano ran a successful boardinghouse from her home at 505 Catherine Street in South Philadelphia. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Boardinghouses were a means for women to make a living independently or to supplement their family’s income. Maria Innocenza Procopio Siciliano emigrated to Philadelphia from Gasperina, Italy, in 1905 with three of her children. Her husband, Salvatore, had arrived in the city five years earlier and worked as a street laborer to pay for their passage. Maria ran a successful boardinghouse from the family’s home at 505 Catherine Street in South Philadelphia, which she established sometime after 1910. In 1921, the family moved across the Delaware River to Camden, New Jersey, where Maria continued to operate a boardinghouse into the 1930s. She and Salvatore remained in Camden until their deaths in 1958. This photograph of Maria was taken in 1915 on the steps of her South Philadelphia boardinghouse.

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