A native Bostonian, Samuel Gridley Howe, 1801-1876, gained renown for his work on behalf of the disabled. After becoming a doctor, he served as a surgeon with the Greek Army for a few years in the 1820s before returning to Boston and establishing a school for the blind (Perkins Institution for the Blind). Howe was the school’s first director and served in that capacity until his death in 1876, during which time he worked both to improve the lives of the blind and of the deaf and blind.
In the 1840s, he became active in the anti-slavery movement. He became was of the incorporators of the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company to settle Kansas with free-state settlers and joined the Massachusetts State Kansas Aid Committee. In 1856, Howe traveled to Kansas to investigate conditions.
During the Civil War, Howe served with the United States Sanitary Commission. After the war, he became chairman of the Massachusetts Board of State Charities and engaged in other charitable activites.
Schwartz, Harold. Samuel Gridley Howe: Social Reformer, 1801-1876. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.