- NAME: Helen Keller
- OCCUPATION: Educator, Activist, Journalist
- BIRTH DATE: June 27, 1880
- DEATH DATE: June 01, 1968
- EDUCATION: Horace Mann School for the Deaf, Wright-Humason School for the Deaf, Cambridge School for Young Ladies, Radcliff College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Tuscumbia, Alabama
- PLACE OF DEATH: Easton, Connecticut
- Full Name: Helen Keller
- Full Name: Helen Adams Keller
Best Known For
American educator Helen Keller overcame the adversity of being blind and deaf to become one of the 20th century's leading humanitarians, as well as co-founder of the ACLU.
Mark Twain - Mini Biography (3:19)
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.
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.
An excerpt from the inspiring story of Helen Keller's, the famed deaf, blind, and mute woman who fought an incredibly courageous battle to communicate with the outside world and led a life of accomplishment.
Hannibal, Missouri native Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, was one of the premier writers of late 19th century America. He based his fictional works "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" on his hometown.
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Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. In 1882, she fell ill and was struck blind, deaf and mute. Beginning in 1887, Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her make tremendous progress with her ability to communicate, and Keller went on to college, graduating in 1904. In 1920, Keller helped found the ACLU. During her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments.
"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow."
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
“Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. Sometime, somewhere, somehow we shall find that which we seek.”
“Gradually from naming an object we advance step by step until we have traversed the vast distance between our first stammered syllable and the sweep of thought in a line of Shakespeare.”
“If it is true that the violin is the most perfect of musical instruments, then Greek is the violin of human thought.”
“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.”
“The two greatest characters in the 19th century are Napoleon and Helen Keller. Napoleon tried to conquer the world by physical force and failed. Helen tried to conquer the world by power of mind — and succeeded!” (Mark Twain)
“The bulk of the world’s knowledge is an imaginary construction.”
“We differ, blind and seeing, one from another, not in our senses, but in the use we make of them, in the imagination and courage with which we seek wisdom beyond the senses.”
“[T]he mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!”
“It is more difficult to teach ignorance to think than to teach an intelligent blind man to see the grandeur of Niagara.”
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
Helen Keller was the first of two daughters born to Arthur H. Keller and Katherine Adams Keller. She also had two older stepbrothers. Keller's father had proudly served as an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The family was not particularly wealthy and earned income from their cotton plantation. Later, Arthur became the editor of a weekly local newspaper, the North Alabamian.
Keller was born with her senses of sight and hearing, and started speaking when she was just 6 months old. She started walking at the age of 1.
In 1882, however, Keller contracted an illness—called "brain fever" by the family doctor—that produced a high body temperature. The true nature of the illness remains a mystery today, though some experts believe it might have been scarlet fever or meningitis. Within a few days after the fever broke, Keller's mother noticed that her daughter didn't show any reaction when the dinner bell was rung, or when a hand was waved in front of her face. Keller had lost both her sight and hearing. She was just 18 months old.
As Keller grew into childhood, she developed a limited method of communication with her companion, Martha Washington, the young daughter of the family cook. The two had created a type of sign language, and by the time Keller was 7, they had invented more than 60 signs to communicate with each other. But Keller had become very wild and unruly during this time. She would kick and scream when angry, and giggle uncontrollably when happy. She tormented Martha and inflicted raging tantrums on her parents. Many family relatives felt she should be institutionalized.
Looking for answers and inspiration, in 1886, Keller's mother came across a travelogue by Charles Dickens, American Notes. She read of the successful education of another deaf and blind child, Laura Bridgman, and soon dispatched Keller and her father to Baltimore, Maryland to see specialist Dr. J. Julian Chisolm. After examining Keller, Chisolm recommended that she see Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell met with Keller and her parents, and suggested that they travel to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts. There, the family met with the school's director, Michael Anaganos. He suggested Helen work with one of the institute's most recent graduates, Anne Sullivan. And so began a 49-year relationship between teacher and pupil.
In March 1887, Sullivan went to Keller's home in Alabama and immediately went to work.
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