Helen Keller- Pivotal People of the USA
Helen Keller - Pivotal People of the USA
Helen Adam Keller, an American author, political activist and lecturer was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She contracted meningitis or scarlet fever when she was 19 months old that left her deaf blind for the rest of her life. Helen’s father, Arther H.Keller, served as a captain for confederation Army and her mother Kate Adams was daughter of Charles Adams (a brigadier). They sort help from Alexander Graham Bell who was working with deaf and blind children to give Helen a new life.
Grooming of Helen Keller
Alexander Graham Bell referred Helen to Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, where another deaf and blind student Laura Bridgman had been successfully educated. Former student, Anne Sullivan, who herself was visually impaired and 20 year of age became Helen’s instructor. Over time Sullivan was appointed as her governess who eventually became her companion sharing a 49 year relationship. Sullivan made signs on Helen’s palm which she slowly began to recognize and went on to learn 60 such home signs. Later Sullivan relocated with Helen to New York to attend Wright-Humason School for the Deaf, where she would also be educated by Sarah Fuller at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf. In 1896, Keller entered The Cambridge School for Young Ladies before she was granted admittance to Radcliffe College in 1900. At Cambridge, Sullivan helped her throughout the lectures by making hand signs to make her understand the studies. Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers partnered with his wife, took on the financial responsibility of Keller’s education and she graduated in 1904, being recognized as the first deaf blind person to receive a Bachelor of Arts Degree. In 1905 Anne got married to John Macy so Polly Thompson became Helen’s new companion.
Awards and Achievements
Helen Keller went on to become a world-famous public speaker and author. Keller moved to Forest Hills, Queens together with Anne and John Macy, and used their house as a base for the activities related to American Foundation for the Blind .At age 22, she published her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1903) which was interpreted in 50 other languages, with the help of Sullivan and Sullivan's husband. It includes words and stories that Keller wrote up to the age of 21, and wrote it during her time in college. Keller wrote masterpieces like “The World I Live In“giving readers which gave an insight about what she thought about the world. Out of the Dark was a series of essays on socialism which came into publication in 1913. My Religion was her spiritual autobiography, was published in 1927 and re-issued as lonely Darkness. With a mission to prevent blindness, malnutrition Helen Keller founded the Helen Keller International. This organization was helped by American Braille Press to aid blind people to read with the help of dot structure of Braille. Helen voices her opinion for various social causes as a suffragist, pacifist and a birth control supporter.
In later years of her life, she stayed at home majorly working for her organization American foundation for the blind after suffering from series of strokes in 1961. She was awarded one of the highest civilian honors Presidential Medal of Freedom. At her memorial service, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama expressed the feelings of many when he said "She will live on, one of the few, the immortal names not born to die. Her spirit will endure as long as man can read and stories can be told of the woman who showed the world there are no boundaries to courage and faith."