The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Keller, Helen Adams
KELLER, Helen Adams, American blind, deaf and dumb girl who has been successfully educated: b. Tuscumbia, Ala., 27 June 1880. When about two years old she was deprived of sight and hearing by a severe illness. Her education was not begun till she was seven, when Miss Anna Mansfield Sullivan (Mrs. John A. Macy), of the Perkins Institute of the Blind, went to her home to take charge of her. She learned the deaf and dumb language by touch, learned to read by the braille system, and to write, using a special typewriter; in 1890 she also learned to speak under the instruction of Miss Sarah Fuller, of the Horace Mann School, New Vork. When 12 years old she went to Boston, where she has since lived; in 1896 she entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies to prepare for college. Miss Sullivan went with her to all classes and repeated the lectures and discussions by touch. In 1900 she entered Radcliffe College and was graduated with honors in 1904. The work of her college course was done with aid of Miss Sullivan, as in the preparatory school; the textbooks were printed in braille; she wrote her examinations with her own typewriter; and had special conferences with her instructors instead of taking part in recitations. In addition to doing the full college work, she took part in the social life and was very popular with her classmates. After graduation she served on the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and on various committees in aid of the blind. She has become well known as a lecturer and writer on her experiences and on the educational and cultural possibilities for the blind. She has written her autobiography under the title of ‘Story of My Life’ (1903), and ‘Optimism’ (1903); ‘The World I Live In’ (1908); ‘Song of the Stone Wall’ (1910); ‘Out of the Dark’ (1913). Consult Harry, Gérard, ‘Man's Miracle: The Story of Helen Keller and her European Sisters’ (New York 1913); Hitz, John, ‘Helen Keller’ in the American Anthropologist (Vol. VIII, Lancaster Pa., 1906); and Madame Maeterlinck, ‘The Girl who Found the Bluebird’ (New York 1914).