Helen Keller

In 1887, Alexander Graham Bell helped which historical figure find a tutor?

And the answer is: Helen Keller.

Photo: Thaxter P. Spencer Family, New England Historic Genealogical Society [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A few years after losing her sight and hearing, Helen Keller's parents brought her to Alexander Graham Bell, the creator of the first telephone, who was working with deaf children at the time. He recommended they visit Perkins Institute for the Blind, where they were introduced to Anne Sullivan, who became Helen's lifelong tutor and friend.

Helen Keller was a monumental force in bringing about awareness for the deaf and blind community. At age six, with the help of her tutor Anne Sullivan, Keller was already learning to feel objects and associate them with words spelled out by finger signals on her palm. A breakthrough for the young girl came with Anne holding Keller's hand under a water spout. As she felt the cool gush of water, Keller learned to associate the sensation with the palm spelling: "w-a-t-e-r." From there, Keller began to create word associations with greater ease, and eventually mastered the alphabet.

From a young age, Keller was determined to go to college. In 1898, she entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies to prepare for Radcliffe College. She entered Radcliffe in the fall of 1900, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in 1904. Keller was the first deaf and blind person to receive a college degree.

Keller quickly became an international icon of activism, an author, and a leader in the cause to remove those with disabilities from asylums. A pacifist, she protested U.S. involvement in World War I. A committed socialist, she took up the cause of workers' rights. She was also a tireless advocate for women's suffrage and an early member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Learn more about the life and legacy of Hellen Keller below.


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