News! Helen Keller has been selected by Time as one of the Most Important People of the 20th Century.

A Starter Course on Helen Keller


Why the Interest?

Well, I used to live across the street from Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller. One day I was surprised to find that there was more to her life than being blind and deaf. And much more than learning to communicate at age 7.

Brief bio sketch
Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama on June 27, 1880. In February of 1882 she lost her sight and hearing due to a childhood illness. In March of 1887 Anne Sullivan was hired to teach Helen, and on April 5, 1887 the miracle occurred: Helen associated water with the letters w-a-t-e-r that Anne was spelling into Helen's hand. Helen learned thirty words by the end of that day -- and never stopped learning.

Helen went on to enroll at Radcliffe and graduated in 1904. While at college she published "The Story of My Life" and later added two more books about her life.

She spent much of her life delivering lectures. Her concerns included women's rights, pacifism, and how to help the blind and deaf. She took a principled stand against World War I (The Great War) and suffered a decline in income from her lectures because of that. During World War II she spent her time visiting military personnel who had lost their sight and/or hearing because of wartime injury. After the war she spent much of her time fund-raising for organizations working with the blind and deaf.

She worked to make Braille, a raised form of writing, the standard for printed communication with the blind. There had been five different methods in competition with each other before that.

Helen died on June 1, 1968 in Westport, Connecticut.

Here's a biography and photo collection arranged by the American Foundation for the Blind.

Also the New York Times has an interesting section about Helen Keller in their Heroine Worship Web Special. You need to be a registered user of the online New York Times to see these articles. [Article was still online at 6/19/99.]


Bibliography
The following were written by Helen Keller: Books about Helen Keller:
Some Quotes from Helen Keller.

*UPDATED* The Helen Keller jokes that used to be here have been removed. There's probably a complete list on the Net if you want to go look for them.

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