Papers of Helen Keller, 1930-1957
Letters from Helen Keller, a humanitarian, activist, and author who was deafblind., to various people regarding topics such as her travels, speaking engagements, and urging support of the American Foundation for the Blind.
- Keller, Helen, 1880-1968 (Person)
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Helen Keller as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
The collection contains six letters from Helen Keller to various people: to Walter G. Holmes describing a trip to Cornwall, England, in 1930; to John Haynes Holmes concerning an upcoming speaking engagement at Holmes' church, including descriptions of the challenges Keller faced in public speaking and a proposal to speak on the topic of world peace, 1931; to Hamilton Holt declining an award from Rollins College, 1939; to "Vera" reflecting on Keller's visit to England and extolling the members of the Women's Voluntary Services and the people of England's resolve during World War II, 1941; to James Melton thanking him for the gift of a television and reflecting on the impact television could have on society, 1951; and to Henry H. Stevens imploring him to make a donation to the American Foundation for the Blind, 1957.
At the age of nineteen months, due to an attack of scarlet fever, Helen Keller lost her senses of sight and hearing. Keller's parents requested that a teacher from the Perkins Institution in Boston, Massachusetts, be sent to instruct the child soon thereafter. Anne M. Sullivan was sent to Helen's home in Tuscumbia, Alabama, to train her according to the methods of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe. From 1888 onwards, at the Perkins Institution, and under Sarah Fuller at the Horace Mann School in New York, she learned to read, write, and talk, and became proficient to some degree in the ordinary education curriculum, several languages, and mathematics.
In 1900, Keller entered Radcliffe College and graduated cum laude in 1904. After her college education, Keller began working extensively in causes for people who are blind in the United States and internationally. She made many tours and held fund-raising benefits for the American Foundation for the Blind. During and after World War II she focused her efforts on aiding veterans, orphans, and refugees. Various honors, awards, and honorary degrees and citations were conferred upon Keller by foreign governments and civic, educational, and welfare organizations throughout the United States. Keller's writings include: Optimism (1903), "The Song of the Stone Wall" (1910), Helen Keller's Journal (1938), Teacher (1955), and others.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 513, 833, 939, 70-3
The papers of Helen Keller were acquired from Paul Richards, 1962-1970.
Processed: January 1984
By: Christine C. Marshall
Updated with additional description: June 2020
By: Paula Aloisio
The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit. Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
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