A remarkable student is often inspired by a remarkable teacher. While Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree (and one from Radcliffe College in 1904), she maintained a life-long friendship with her first teacher, Anne Sullivan -- a relationship which is described in Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life.
Johanna Mansfield Sullivan (April 14, 1866 - October 20, 1936), was herself partially blind, having contracted trachoma at the age of five. After graduating as valedictorian at the age of twenty from the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, Anne became Helen's teacher at the Kellers' home in Tuscania, Alabama. She began teaching seven-year-old Helen by spelling out favorite words in Helen's palm, then went on to numbers, and the Braille system.
Sullivan encouraged Helen to attend the Perkins' School and moved with her to Boston in 1888. Anne's protégée quickly became a model for extraordinary accomplishment in the education of persons with disabilities, as both Helen and Anne went on to receive national and international recognition from leading institutions and professional organizations.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Into the Light, By Helen Keller: "More Of Anne Sullivan". (1926, Sep 29). Boston Daily Globe (1923-1927)
- Wireless to The New York Times. (1932, Feb 16). Helen Keller's Tutor Gets Degree. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Wilson, P.A. (1933, Oct 01). The Liberator Of Helen Keller. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Ross, M. (1933, Oct 01). Great Teacher, Great Pupil: How Anne Sullivan, Herself Almost Blind, Opened Up the World For Helen Keller. New York Herald Tribune (1926-1962)
- Copinger, N.I. (1933, Nov 19). The Other Self Of Helen Keller: An Irish Immigrant's Daughter Who Taught a Blind Girl To "See". The Sun (1837-1994)
- U. S. Celebrates Helen Keller's 'Tribute Year': Period Until March 3 Marks 50th Anniversary Of Her Meeting With Teacher (1937, Oct 18). New York Herald Tribune (1926-1962)
- Schools, Churches Honor Helen Keller. (1938, Mar 12). The Chicago Defender (National Edition) (1921-1967)
- Cornell, K. (1955, Jun 24). Helen Keller In Her Life. Newsday (1940-1991)
- Awards To Honor Helen Keller's Teacher. (1966, Mar 16). The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973)
- Whitman, A. (1980, May 25). How Much Of 'Helen Keller' Was Anne Sullivan. Newsday (1940-1991)
- Evans, W. K. E. (1980, Jun 15). How the Miracle Worked: Helen and Teacher. The Washington Post (1974-Current File)
- The Irish-American Who Taught the Deaf-Blind Writer and Activist Helen Keller To Speak: Irish Connections Anne Sullivan. (2017, Jul 08). The Irish Times (1921-Current File)
- Anne Sullivan Macy Service for Deaf-Blind Persons. Out Of the Shadows: Final Report. New Hyde Park, N.Y., National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults . HV1597 .A54
- Keller, Helen. Teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy: A Tribute By the Foster-Child Of Her Mind. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, c1955. HV1624.M3 K4 1955
- Nielsen, Kim A. Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller. Boston : Beacon Press, c2009. e-book
- Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan in July 1888, Wikimedia Commons
- Special Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries
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