- 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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Gradually, however, Anne and John became distant to each other, as Anne's devotion to Keller continued unabated. After several years, they separated, though were never divorced.
After college, Keller set out to learn more about the world and how she could help improve the lives of others. News of her story spread beyond Massachusetts and New England. She became a well-known celebrity and lecturer by sharing her experiences with audiences, and working on behalf of others living with disabilities. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Keller tackled social and political issues, including women's suffrage, pacifism and birth control. She testified before Congress, strongly advocating to improve the welfare of blind people. In 1915, along with renowned city planner George Kessler, she co-founded Helen Keller International to combat the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition. In 1920, she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union.
When the American Federation for the Blind was established in 1921, Keller had an effective national outlet for her efforts. She became a member in 1924, and participated in many campaigns to raise awareness, money and support for the blind. She also joined other organizations dedicated to helping those less fortunate, including the Permanent Blind War Relief Fund (later called the American Braille Press).
Soon after she graduated from college, Keller became a member of the Socialist Party, most likely due in part to her friendship with John Macy. Between 1909 and 1921, she wrote several articles about socialism and supported Eugene Debs, a Socialist Party presidential candidate. Her series of essays on socialism, entitled "Out of the Dark," described her views on socialism and world affairs.
It was during this time that Keller first experienced public prejudice about her disabilities. For most of her life, the press had been overwhelmingly supportive of her, praising her courage and intelligence. But after she expressed her socialist views, some criticized her by calling attention to her disabilities. One newspaper, the Brooklyn Eagle, wrote that her "mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development."
In 1936, Keller's beloved teacher and devoted companion, Anne Sullivan, died. She had experienced health problems for several years and, in 1932, lost her eyesight completely. A young woman named Polly Thompson, who had begun working as a secretary for Keller and Sullivan in 1914, became Keller's constant companion upon Sullivan's death.
In 1946, Keller was appointed counselor of international relations for the American Foundation of Overseas Blind. Between 1946 and 1957, she traveled to 35 countries on five continents. In 1955, at age 75, Keller embarked on the longest and most grueling trip of her life: a 40,000-mile, five-month trek across Asia. Through her many speeches and appearances, she brought inspiration and encouragement to millions of people.
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