In 1880, in her senior year of high school, Gertrude Lewis arranged for leading animal welfare advocate, George T. Angell, to lecture in Hartford. A lawyer and philanthropist, Angell formed the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1868.

Connecticut Humane Society

Angell came to Hartford in November 1880 and lectured at the meeting Lewis organized. Nearly 200 people remained after his presentation to begin the process of forming a society. In April of 1881, the General Assembly granted a charter to the newly established Connecticut Humane Society.

When it was first established, the Humane Society offered protective services to children as well as livestock, wildlife, companion animals, and animals used in the workplace and in sport. When the State of Connecticut developed the Department of Children and Families in 1965, the Humane Society’s primary focus shifted to animals, specifically pets.

As Angell noted, the Society “now stands as a monument of the power of one modest but earnest schoolgirl.”

Nursing Career

Lewis finished high school in 1881. She graduated from the Hartford Hospital Training School in 1901. In that same year she was selected matron of the Litchfield County Hospital where she remained throughout her career.

Section 6, Lot 236


Hartford Courant. “A School Girl’s Power.” July 17, 1891

Hartford Courant. “Matron of Litchfield County Hospital.” September 11, 1901

Hartford Courant. “Gertrude Lewis Dies, Active in Humane Field.” December 24, 1957

Hartford Courant. “State Humane Society Marks 85th Anniversary.” November 27, 1966

Photo Credit:

Gertrude O. Lewis, Public Domain