Today In Women’s History: Helen Keller Meets Her Miracle Worker Anne Sullivan

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On March 3, 1887, the lives of two extraordinary women were changed forever when Anne Sullivan, a graduate of the Perkins Institute for the Blind, arrived at the home of the Kellers to work with their blind and deaf child Helen.

As soon as Anne began working with the 6-year-old, it became apparent that Helen was extremely gifted. She learned to both read and write, and by the age of ten had also mastered speech.

The unique relationship between teacher and student was documented in the award-winning film The Miracle Worker, an apt description of Anne by Mark Twain, who was an admirer of Helen’s.

Anne is responsible for not only educating Helen, but also for introducing her to activism. Later in her life, Helen became an activist and lecturer, in support of the blind and deaf, and for causes including Socialism and women’s rights. Helen was an early advocate of birth control and helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained,” Helen Keller

In this rare footage of Anne and Helen from a 1930 Vitaphone newsreel, Anne shows how Helen learned to talk. Helen’s final line, “I am not DUMB now,” provides a small glimpse into the lifelong journey these two women traveled. Inspiration overload!

Learn more about Helen Keller and her experiences in the autobiography, The Story of My Life.

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