Howe, Samuel Gridley

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Howe, Samuel Gridley

Samuel Gridley Howe, 1801–76, American reformer and philanthropist, b. Boston, Mass., grad. Brown, 1821, M.D. Harvard, 1824. He began his life-long service to others by going to Greece to aid in its war for independence and spent six years there. He is best remembered for his work with the blind; he was the organizer of the New England Asylum for the Blind (now the Perkins School for the Blind) and was its head for 44 years. The remarkable success of the education of Laura Bridgman, who was both blind and deaf, did much to improve the education of the disabled in the United States. He was chairman of the Massachusetts state board of charities from 1865 to 1874. He also supported Dorothea Dix in her work for the insane, sought to help the mentally retarded, approved the educational reforms of Horace Mann, and with his wife, Julia Ward Howe, strongly and vocally opposed slavery. The troubles in Crete (1866–67) took him again to Greece.

See his letters and journals (1906–9); biographies by H. Schwartz (1956) and M. Meltzer (1964); E. Freeberg, The Education of Laura Bridgman (2001); E. Gitter, The Imprisoned Guest: Samuel Howe and Laura Bridgman (2001).

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