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COLLECTION Identifier: 176

Papers of Helen Keller, 1900-1969

Correspondence, photographs, etc., of Helen Keller, a deafblind humanitarian and author.


  • 1900-1969

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

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.


.42 linear feet (1 file box)

The Helen Keller Collection covers the period from 1900 to 1968. The papers in the collection contain biographical data in the form of correspondence, photographs, and newspaper clippings. Among the correspondence are letters by Ella J. Spooner and others about Miss Keller's Radcliffe experience, which help to shed some light on some of the difficulties she encountered in obtaining her degree. Also included are fund-raising letters written by Miss Keller at various points of her life-long work with the American Foundation for the Blind. A tour itinerary from a 1947 trip to the Far East gives an indication of Miss Keller's varied activities in finding help for blind people all over the world, and a 1910 poem by Miss Keller reveals her spirit and eloquence in the face of great obstacles. Some photographs of Helen Keller and famous people with whom she met from time to time are also in this collection, as well as more personal photographs of this humanitarian.


At the age of nineteen months, due to an attack of scarlet fever, Helen Keller lost her senses of sight and hearing. Helen's parents requested that a teacher from the Perkins Institution in Boston, Massachusetts, be sent to instruct the child soon thereafter. Miss Anne M. Sullivan was sent to Helen's home in Tuscumbia, Alabama, to train her according to the methods of Dr. S. G. Howe. From 1888 onwards, at the Perkins Institution, and under Miss Sarah Fuller at the Horace Mann School in New York, she not only learned to read, write, and talk, but became proficient to some degree in the ordinary education curriculum, several languages, and mathematics. Unfortunately, no exact record of the steps of her education was kept. In 1900, Miss Keller entered Radcliffe College where, with the aid of tutors and special proctors (and, of course, her friend and teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, who remained with her throughout), Helen graduated cum laude in 1904. After her college education, Miss Keller began working extensively in causes for the blind all over the world. She made many tours and held fund-raising benefits for the American Foundation for the Blind. During and after World War II she was untiring in her efforts to aid blinded veterans, orphans, and refugees. Various honors, awards, and honorary degrees and citations were conferred upon Miss Keller by foreign governments and civic, educational, and welfare organizations throughout the U.S. Helen Keller represents one of the most remarkable cases to date of a person who overcame natural disabilities to develop knowledge and an exceptionally wide general culture. Her 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: 1304, 1305, 1406, 1455, 1457, 1472, 1491, 1493, 1604

The papers of Helen Keller were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in March of 1968 by Mrs. John C. Shere and Miss Elsie M. Paine, in August of 1968 by Miss Ella J. Spooner, in September of 1968 by Mrs. Charles Parker, in November of 1968 by Miss Mary Lee and Miss Ellen Kerney, and in May of 1969 by Mr. William Burrage.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Helen Keller, 1898-2003 (SC 11.).

Processing Information

Processed: October 2, 1972
Link to catalog
Keller, Helen, 1880-1968. Papers of Helen Keller, 1900-1969: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Repository Details

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.

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