Fun Facts & Quotes
of Helen Keller
Helen Keller Biography

Helen Keller (1880-1968)


Imagine that you couldn't see these words or hear them spoken. But you could still talk,
write, read, and make friends. In fact, you went to college, wrote nearly a dozen books,
traveled all over the world, met 12 U.S. presidents, and lived to be 87. Well, there was
such a person, and she was born over a hundred years ago!

Meet Helen Keller, a woman from the small farm town of Tuscumbia, Alabama who
taught the world to respect people who are blind and deaf. Her mission came from her
own life; when she was 1 1/2, she was extremely ill, and she lost both her vision and
hearing. It was like entering a different world, with completely new rules, and she got
very frustrated. By the time she was 7, her parents knew they needed help, so they hired
a tutor named Anne Sullivan.

Helen Keller at age 7   




Anne was strict, but she had a lot of energy. In just a few days, she taught Helen how to
spell words with her hands (called the manual alphabet, which is part of the sign
language that deaf people use.) The trouble was, Helen didn't understand what the
words meant—until one morning at the water pump (like an outdoor water fountain)
she got a whole new attitude.    
Anne Sullivan    

Anne had Helen hold one hand under the water. Then she spelled "W-A-T-E-R" into
Helen's other hand. It was electric! The feeling turned into a word. Immediately, Helen
bent down and tapped the ground; Anne spelled "earth." Helen's brain flew; that day,
she learned 30 words.  





From then on, Helen's mind raced ahead. She learned to speak when she was ten by
feeling her teacher's mouth when she talked. Often people found it hard to understand
her, but she never gave up trying. Meanwhile, she learned to read French, German,
Greek, and Latin in braille! When she was 20, she entered Radcliffe College, the
women's branch of Harvard University. Her first book, called The Story of My Life, was
translated into 50 languages. (She used two typewriters: one regular, one braille.) She
wrote ten more books and a lot more articles! How did she find the time?




Helen also did research, gave speeches, and helped raise money for many
organisations, such as the American Foundation for the Blind and the American
Foundation for the Overseas Blind, which is now called Helen Keller Worldwide. From
1946 and 1957, she went around the world, speaking about the experiences and rights
of people who are blind. She wound up visiting 39 countries on five different continents!
Helen also inspired many works of art, including two Oscar-winning movies, and
received dozens of awards, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest
honour that an American civilian can receive. She died in her sleep in 1968.  

Helen became an exceptional leader, once she saw the potential in her own mind.  
Learn even more about Helen Keller at
www.afb.org/helenkeller.asp!  
Fun Facts & Quotes

Helen Keller loved hot dogs!

Helen Keller wrote to eight Presidents of the United States, and received letters from all of them—
from Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 to Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, a small rural town in Northwest Alabama,
USA.  

Helen was an excellent typist. She could use a standard typewriter as well as a braille writer. In fact,
she was a better typist than her companions Anne Sullivan Macy and Polly Thomson.

Helen loved animals, especially dogs. She owned a variety of dogs throughout her life. The first Akita
dog in the United States was sent to Helen from Japan in 1938.

Helen visited 39 countries around the world during her lifetime.

Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a college degree. She graduated from
Radcliffe College, with honours, in 1904.

Helen was friends with many famous people, including Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the
telephone, the writer Mark Twain, and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Helen won an Oscar for the documentary about her life, "Helen Keller in Her Story."

Quotes
"We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others."
- Helen Keller

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the
heart."
- Helen Keller, 1891

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
- Helen Keller, 1941

"The chief handicap of the blind is not blindness, but the attitude of seeing people towards them."
- Helen Keller, 1925

"I believe humility is a virtue, but I prefer not to use it unless it is absolutely necessary."
- Helen Keller, 1916

"What a strange life I lead—a kind of Cinderella-life—half-glitter in crystal shoes, half mice and
cinders!"
- Helen Keller, 1933

"If I, deaf, blind, find life rich and interesting, how much more can you gain by the use of your five
senses!"
- Helen Keller, 1928

"The most beautiful world is always entered through imagination."
- Helen Keller, 1908

"Faith is a mockery if it does not teach us that we can build a more complete and beautiful world."
- Helen Keller

Chronology
  •  June 27, 1880 Helen Keller is born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her father's name is Captain Arthur
    Henley Keller and her mother is Kate Adams Keller.

  •  February 1882 After being struck by illness, Helen loses both her sight and hearing. No one is
    ever sure exactly what disease she had, but some people think it was scarlet fever.

  •  March 3, 1887 Anne Sullivan comes to the Keller home and begins teaching Helen letters by
    signing into her hand ("manual sign language").

  •  April 5, 1887 Anne makes the "miracle" breakthrough, teaching Helen that everything has a
    name by spelling W-A-T-E-R into Helen's hand as water flows over her palm.

  •  Fall 1889 Helen goes to Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, her first formal education.

  •  September 1900 Helen becomes a member of the freshmen class of 1904 at Radcliffe College.

  •  1902 With the help of an editor, Helen writes The Story of My Life.

  •  June 28, 1904 Helen becomes the first deaf-blind individual to earn a college degree,
    graduating with honours from Radcliffe.

  •  Spring 1909 Helen joins the Suffragist movement, demanding the right to vote for women.

  • October 1924 Helen and Anne begin their work with the American Foundation for the Blind.

  •  April 1930 Helen, Anne, and Polly Thompson travel abroad for the first time, visiting Scotland,
    Ireland, and England for over six months. This trip is only the beginning of Helen's travels
    overseas -- she would eventually visit 39 countries!

  •  October 1936 Anne Sullivan Macy dies.

  •  January 1943 Helen visits blind, deaf, and disabled soldiers of World War II in military hospitals
    around the country.

  • September 1964 President Lyndon Johnson gives Helen the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the
    nation's highest civilian honour.

  •  June 1, 1968 Helen Keller dies in her sleep.
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