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Famous Figure: Helen Keller

Page history last edited by Jillian Ravnell 11 years, 6 months ago

Helen Keller

 

     Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 to Captain Arthur and Kate Keller.  She was born at her family home called the "Ivy Green" in Tuscumbia, Alabama.  As a child, Helen Keller could hear and see; but after a sudden illness these abilities were lost.

     Six months after Helen's first birthday she became very ill.  Her mother decided to seek help from the doctor, in which he diagnosed her illness as "brain fever."   But, the doctor didn't expect her to live.  To everyone's suprise her fever broke; but the fever left her deaf and blind.  As a result, Helen began communicating through her 60 invented "home signs."  Her "home signs" were considered her own language; but her family and friends grew to understand what she what she was saying.  

     As a child, since Helen couldn't hear or see should would always get into trouble.  Therefore, her dad decided she needed to attend school.  Mr. Keller called Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, an expert on teaching deaf children how to speak.  Dr. Bell referred Mr. Keller to Michael Anagnos, the director of the Perkins Institution.  

     Later, with the help of Dr, Bell and Mr. Anagnos a teacher by the name of Annie Sullivan was assigned to help Helen Keller begin her journey to success.  Helen Keller began her journey at the age of seven.  Everyday she would attend school in the cottage next door to her home.  Annie Sullivan, who was also blind, taught Helen Keller new vocabulary words, fingerspelling, Braille, and how to lip read.  And later, she learned how to speak.  

     In 1894 Helen Keller turned fourteen in the fall.  She began attending Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York.  There, she studied math, literature, and United States history while mastering lip reading.  After she finished school at Wright-Humason she began studying at Cambridge School for Young Ladies in the fall of 1896.  Cambridge School for Young Ladies was located in Boston, Massachusetts which helped Helen prepare for entrance exam into Radcliffe College.  In 1990, at the age of twenty Helen became a student at Radcliffe.  Four years later she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with cum laude honors.  Now, Helen communicates through fingerspelling and producing speech orally.  

     After graduation, Helen and Annie settled into a farmhouse in Wrentham, Massachusetts.  However, they were struggling to make ends meet.  So, Helen decided to begin her writing career.  She wrote her first book titled "The Story of My Life."  Also, Helen and Annie went on speaking engagements called lecture tours.  Helen then starred in her own movie called the Delieverance.  But, her major source of income was performing in plays known as vaudeville acts.  Later, she became an ambassador for teh American Foundation for the Blind.

     During Helen's lifetime she made many accomplishments.  In fact, she was the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree.  In addition, she raised money to help other deaf and blind individuals because she wanted them to have similar opportunities as she had.  Helen Keller also recieved an honorary doctoral degree from Temple University and in 1964 she received the Medal of Freedom Award from President Lyndon Johnson.  Lastly, in 1968 Helen Keller passed at the age of 87 but her legacy stilll lives on. 

 

References

 

Delano, M.F. (2008). Helen's Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's Teacher. Wasington,

     D.C.: National Geographic Society.

 

Garrett, L. (2004). Helen Keller. New York: DK Publishing.

 

Keller, J. (1905). The Story of My Life. New York: Grosset and Dunlap.

 

St. George, J. (1992). Dear Dr. Bell. . .Your friend, Helen Keller. New York: G.P. Putman's Sons.

 

Published by Jillian Ravnell on July 3, 2009

 

 

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