Perkins School for the Blind
This collection consists of publications, correspondence, marketing materials, clippings, and other ephemera related to Helen Keller. The collection includes correspondence from researchers and administrative files from Perkins Archives and Research Library. Correspondence in the collection relates to questions from and work by researchers.
1 box (1 linear foot)
Susanna Coit, 2018 ; Biography updated by Susanna Coit, 2022
Helen Keller (1880-1968) was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama to retired army Captain Arthur Keller and his second wife, Kate. Helen had a younger brother (Phillips Brooks) and sister (Mildred), and two older half brothers. When she was nineteen months old, she became ill with a very high fever that ultimately left her deaf and blind. Doctors at the time diagnosed this as “brain fever” or “brain congestion,” but experts today believe that she most likely suffered from scarlet fever or meningitis.
Helen Keller developed her own system of hand gestures to communicate with her family and by the time she was seven she had nearly 60 such gestures. Nonetheless, she was frequently frustrated by the inability to express herself. When Anne Sullivan arrived to teach her in 1887, Keller quickly learned to fingerspell, as well as to read braille and raised type, and to write in block letters.
After a year and a half of homeschooling, Sullivan decided that Keller would benefit from the resources of a school. In 1888, Sullivan brought Keller to study at Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind (now Perkins School for the Blind). She became a student at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York in 1894 before attending the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in 1896 to prepare for Radcliffe College. In 1904 she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe and became the first person with deafblindness to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Helen Keller was a prolific writer, publishing 14 books and numerous articles. She traveled across the globe, advocating for social issues, such as women’s suffrage and rights for people who are blind or deafblind. She received numerous awards throughout her life for her humanitarian efforts.
It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Perkins School for the Blind, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.
AG160 Helen Keller ephemera. Perkins School for the Blind Archives, Watertown, MA.
This collection contains various printed materials related to Helen Keller and her life. It contains materials related to events such as “The Deliverance,” a silent film about Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan and materials from the Helen Keller Centennial. It also includes writings about Helen Keller including essays, theses, and articles. Administrative files from the Perkins Archives and Research Library feature notes, publications, requests, and correspondence related to Helen Keller collections. The collection also includes a variety of marketing materials and publications for events and topics related to Helen Keller and her work.
The collection is arranged into seven series. Within the series, the materials are arranged chronologically when possible.
- Series 1: Memorabilia Related to “The Deliverance”
- Series 2: Helen Keller Centennial
- Series 3: Writings About Keller
- Series 4: Archives Staff Notes
- Series 5: Correspondence
- Series 6: Marketing Materials, Publications, Ephemera
- Series 7: Bound Material
List of digital collections related to Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan that are available online.
Series 1: Memorabilia Related to “The Deliverance”
- B1:F1: Memorabilia related to film “The Deliverance”, undated, 1922, 1929
- B1:F2: Deliverance pamphlet
Series 2: Helen Keller Centennial
- B1:F3: Helen Keller Centennial Congress Materials (labeled Director/Mary)
- B1:F4: Keller Centennial, 1980
Series 3: Writings About Keller
- B1:F5: 371.911 #30 – “Statement Touching Upon Helen Keller and the Cause of the Blind…”, undated
- B1:F6: Manuscript about Anne Sullivan, undated
- B1:F7: “Cape Cod’s Private Miracle” by Philip A. Jenkin, undated
- B1:F8: Manuscript and press release related to Helen Keller, undated
- B1:F9: “Helen and Annie” by Nancy K. Duncan – script, undated
- B1:F10: “Helen and Annie” by Nancy K. Duncan, The Emmy Gifford Children’s Theater, 1985
- B1:F11: HK Int’l Oral History Project, 1988
- B1:F12: Shrank – Annie Sullivan draft, 1989
- B1:F13: “Helen” script: Polka Theatre for Children, 1990
- B1:F14: “Touching Words: Helen Keller, Plagiarism, Authorship” by Jim Swan, 1992
- B1:F15: American Women of Achievement, by Kelly Wolfington, March 14, 1994
- B1:F16: Annie Sullivan Introduction, 1995
- B1:F17: Thesis on 1893 Keller photograph, 2008
- B1:F18: Slabbert poetry about Keller, 2009
Series 4: Archives Staff Notes
- B1:F19: Photocopies: scrapbook P. I, No. 11, 1892
- B1:F20: Keller catalog cards/notes
- B1:F21: Ken Stuckey file
- B1:F22: Keller’s college exams (article)
- B1:F23: 2 papers written by Keller at Radcliffe, 1897 – signed by Arthur Gilman
- B1:F24: Canvas-backed newspaper clipping – How I Passed the Radcliffe Exams, 8/18/1899
- B1:F25: Radcliffe commencement, 1904
- B1:F26: “Talk with HK at Sardi’s”, Feb. 27. 1953
- B1:F27: “Helen Keller at Perkins” by Dr. Edward J. Waterhouse, undated
- B1:F28: Helen Keller memorial and funeral service programs, 1968
- B1:F29: Photographs and letter – Keller and Sullivan life masks by Ruotolo, 1978
- B1:F30: FBI File on Helen Keller (photocopies, now available online), 1995
Series 5: Correspondence
- B1:F31: Books formerly owned by Keller and auto response card for correspondence, undated
- B1:F32: Letter to Mr. Farrington from Keller and Sullivan, undated.
- B1:F33: Found letters donated in 1989, undated (for letters)
- B1:F34: Photocopies of letters written by Helen Keller to Edith Johnson, 1890 (from Nancy Jensen, Perkins does not own the originals)
- B1:F35: Helen Keller letter photocopies from AG29, 1890
- B1:F36: Stuckey correspondence – Irene Keegan, (donation), letter by Matilda McLean, 1899 (written from South Boston)
- B1:F37: Letter to E.E. Allen from Friends of Soviet Russia, Feb. 6, 1924
- B1:F38: Letter, reprint of statement published in Teachers College Record, Feb. 1932
- B1:F39: Correspondence from HK to Miss Ricketson, n.d. And Mrs. Powers, 1936 (re: Sullivan’s death)
- B1:F40: Copies of Keller letters, 1952
- B1:F41: Helen Keller – Keller Macy Cottage Dedication, Original letter and telegrams from Samuel Eliot and Gov. Christian A. Herter, 1956
- B1:F42: Condolences telegram about the death of Helen Keller, 1968
- B1:F43: Letter to Waterhouse from Mrs. Nice Saraiva Loureiro (Brazil), re: HK’s death, June 24, 1968
- B1:F44: Photocopies of Keller correspondence with Sarah Elizabeth Lane, with research materias, 1888, 1891, 1906
- B1:F45: Keller correspondence with Ethel Orr, Orr family quilt event, 2008
Series 6: Marketing Materials, Publications, Ephemera
- B1:F46: Mementos from Ivy Green, Helen Keller’s childhood home, undated
- B1:F47: United States Eye Injury Registry pamphlet, undated
- B1:F48: Various solicitation/fundraising postcards w/ braille, Dec. 1924
- B1:F49: AFB Fundraiser Helen Keller stamps, 1938
- B1:F50: 75th Birthday Committee mailing, 1955
- B1:F51: Sermon pamphlet, 11/25/1956
- B1:F52: Shotwell Memorial Award Souvenir, 6/29/1957
- B1:F53: AFB Keller information packet, 1960
- B1:F54: American Foundation for the Blind fund appeal letter, 1960
- B1:F55: Helen Keller World Crusade for the Blind, sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind, c. 1968
- B1:F56: Newsletter and program for Washington Cathedral Helen Keller memorial carving, 1970
- B1:F57: Helen Keller brochures, newsletters, and press releases, 1931-1997
- B1:F58: Helen Keller publications, 1931-1995
- B1:F59: Clippings, 1892-1989 (bulk 1940s, 1980s)
- B1:F60: Helen Keller – Clippings and mailings, 1929-1931
Series 7: Bound Material
- A Historical Study for a Production Reconstructing Helen Keller’s Vaudeville and Lecture Performances, A Thesis Presented to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Theatre and Dance, Southwest Missouri State University, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of the Arts, by Karen Payne Malone, October 1994
- Helen Keller The Speaker: Visions of a Better Tomorrow, Lois Einhorn, Binghamton University (undated)
- Helen Keller Eye Research Foundation (binder), 1993
- Radcliffe College
- People who are deafblind
- Sullivan, Anne, 1866-1936
- Keller, Helen, 1880-1968
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