Kate Gleason, the Madame Curie of Machine Tools (1865 – 1933)
For me, age does not diminish the excitement of discovering through books exceptional people, people who were pioneers in industrial history. I made such a discovery recently while reading “60 Years with Men and Machines,” Fred H. Colvin’s autobiography: “This woman, a kind of Madame Curie of machine tools, was the renowned Kate Gleason, daughter of William Gleason, the founder of the Gleason Works of Rochester, New York, and at that time the only woman in the world connected with the machinery industry in a major sense” (p. 73). Kate Gleason may not have been “the only woman in the world” with industrial expertise, but their identities were often hidden when publicly identified only as Mrs. John Peter Smith, Mrs. George Alan Peterson, Mrs. Frank James Nelson, etc. To learn more about the person that Colvin considered “one of the most interesting women I have ever known,” my wife Nan Jackson found “The Life and Letters of Kate Gleason” and ordered this 2010 book directly from the publisher, Rochester Institute of Technology (home of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering).