Papers of Helen Keller, 1933-1971
Papers of Helen Keller, a humanitarian, activist, and author who was deafblind.
- 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 is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. 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 papers of Helen Keller consist of letters from Helen Keller to her nephew and niece, Phillips and Libby (Elizabeth Reed) Brooks, containing family news, recounting speaking engagements and visits with Katharine Cornell, and updates on Mary Agnew (Polly) Thomson's health. Also included are letters concerning the American Foundation for the Blind efforts to raise funds to build Keller a new home after a fire destroyed her house in 1947, and a letter from Phillips B. Keller recounting family history and reminiscences of Helen Keller. The collection also contains newspaper clippings about Keller and 13 photographs of Keller, including a 1949 photograph of group including Keller, Katharine Cornell, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.
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.
Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 75-35, 75-97, 75-175, 75-362
The papers of Helen Keller were given to the library by Phillips Brooks Keller, Jr., and Elizabeth Reed Keller in 1975.
Processed: June 1982
By: Deborah Tucker
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
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.
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