Distinguished Women of Past and Present


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Helen Keller

From: United States: Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York
Fields: Activism and Social Service, Human Rights, Literature and Poetry
Key Words/Phrases: author, political activist, lecturer, deaf/blind
Keller, Helen Adams (1880-1968), American author and lecturer, who, having overcome considerable physical handicaps, served as an inspiration for other afflicted people. She was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. When 19 months old, she was stricken with an acute illness that left her deaf and blind. No method could be found to educate her until the age of seven, when she began her special education in reading and writing with Anne Mansfield Sullivan (later Macy) of the Perkins Institute for the Blind. She quickly learned to read by the Braille system and to write by means of a specially constructed typewriter. In 1890 Keller learned to speak after only one month of study. Ten years later, she was able to enter Radcliffe College, from which she graduated with honors in 1904. Keller then served on the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Throughout her life she worked and raised funds for the American Foundation for the Blind, and she traveled and lectured in many countries, including England, France, Italy, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, and Japan. Keller was also a pacifist and was active in socialist causes. After World War II (1939-1945), she visited wounded veterans in American hospitals and lectured in Europe on behalf of the physically handicapped. Her writings include The Story of My Life (1902), The World I Live In (1908), Out of the Dark (1913), Midstream-My Later Life (1930), Let Us Have Faith (1940), Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy (1955), and The Open Door (1957). Her life is the subject of a motion picture, The Unconquered (1954), and a play, The Miracle Worker (1959; motion picture, 1962), by American author William Gibson.

"Keller, Helen Adams" Microsoft Encarta.
Copyright 1995 Microsoft Corporation.


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