- NAME: Anne Sullivan
- OCCUPATION: Educator
- BIRTH DATE: April 14, 1866
- DEATH DATE: October 20, 1936
- EDUCATION: Perkins School for the Blind
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Feeding Hills, Massachusetts
- PLACE OF DEATH: Forest Hills, New York
- Full Name: Johanna Mansfield Sullivan Macy
- AKA: Johanna Sullivan
- AKA: Anne Sullivan
- Maiden Name: Johanna Mansfield Sullivan
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Anne Sullivan was a teacher who, at age 21, taught Helen Keller, who was deaf, mute, and blind, how to communicate and read Braille.
Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing when she was only 19 months old. With the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, she learned to read and speak.
On March 3rd, 1887, Anne Sullivan arrived at the Keller's home in Alabama to work with their deaf and blind daughter, Helen. Through their work together, Helen Keller would go on to become one of the most influential people in history.
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When we have found it, willingly and faithfully perform it; for every obstacle we overcome, every success we achieve tends to bring man closer to God."
Anagnos helped Sullivan find a job after graduation. The Keller family had written him looking for a governess for their daughter Helen, who was deaf, blind, and mute. In March 1887, Sullivan traveled to Tuscumbia, Alabama, to work for the Keller family. Sullivan had studied the instruction methods used with Laura Bridgman,
a deaf and blind student she had known at Perkins, before going to Alabama.
At only 21 years of age, Sullivan showed great maturity and ingenuity in teaching Keller. She wanted to help Keller make associations between words and physical objects, and worked hard with her rather stubborn and spoiled pupil. After isolating Keller from her family in order to better educate her, Sullivan began working to teach Keller how to communicate with the outside world. During one lesson, she finger-spelled the word "water" on one of Keller's hands as she ran water over her student's other hand. Keller finally made her first major breakthrough, connecting the concept of sign language with the objects around her.
Thanks to Sullivan's instruction, Keller learned nearly 600 words, most of her multiplication tables, and how to read Braille within a matter of months. News of Sullivan's success with Keller spread, and the Perkins school wrote a report about their progress as a team. Keller became a celebrity because of the report, meeting the likes of Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Mark Twain.
Sullivan decided that Keller could benefit from the Perkins School's program, and the two spent time there off-and-on throughout Anne's adolescence. They also sought aid for Keller's speech at the Wight-Humason School in New York City. When Keller's family could no longer afford to pay Sullivan or manage Helen's school costs, a number of wealthy benefactors—including millionaire Andrew Carnegie—stepped in to help them defray their costs.
Despite the physical strain on her own limited sight, Sullivan helped Keller continue her studies at Radcliffe College in 1900. She spelled the contents of class lectures into Keller's hand, and spent hours conveying information from textbooks to her. As a result, Keller became the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college.
Working with Keller on an autobiography, Sullivan met John A. Macy, a Harvard University instructor. Macy helped edit the manuscript, and he fell in love with Sullivan. After refusing several marriage proposals from him, she finally accepted. The two were wed in 1905.
Sullivan, however, did not let her marriage affect her life with Keller. She and her husband lived with Keller in a Massachusetts farmhouse. The two women remained inseparable, with Sullivan traveling with Keller on numerous lecture tours. On stage, she helped relay Keller's words to the audience, as Keller had never learned to speak clearly enough to be widely understood.
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