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Nella Braddy Henney collection

finding aid

Creator:

Nella Braddy Henney, Keith Henney

Date Range:

1903-1976

Call number:

AG151

Abstract:

The Nella Braddy Henney Collection is comprised of original correspondence, binders of correspondence photocopies with indices, photographs, articles, clippings, publications and other materials related to the lives of Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy, Polly Thomson, and Nella Braddy Henney. The extensive correspondence collection contains Keller correspondence with other people, including Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Perkins Director Michael Anagnos, and other notable people forwarded to Nella Braddy Henney for use while working on her book Anne Sullivan Macy: The story behind Helen Keller (1933).

Braddy Henney was married to Keith Henney, a photographer who is responsible for many of the photographs in the collection. The photograph collection includes portraits, publicity photographs with prominent individuals, materials related to film projects in Hollywood, advocacy for blinded veterans, many casual images from visits to Helen Keller’s Arcan Ridge and Forest Hills homes, and trips to Martha’s Vineyard with Eleanor Roosevelt.

Extent:

About 15 linear feet; 22 boxes, 36 binders

Language:

English

Processed by:

Charlotte Cushman, Stefanie Maclin, Molly Stothert-Maurer, 2011 ; biography and container list updated by Susanna Coit, 2019

Biographical/Historical notes:

Nella Braddy Henney was born in Leslie, Georgia on November 28, 1894. The family lived in Sumter County, Georgia. Nella married Keith Henney on August 28, 1926. She attended Wesleyan College (Macon, GA) and then Converse College in Spartanburg (GA). She earned a bachelors degree from in 1915 and was awarded an honorary degree in 1934. She attended Columbia University for graduate school.

From 1919 until 1938, Nella worked at Doubleday as an editor of books, encyclopedias, and anthologies. In 1923, she was assigned to work with Helen Keller when F.N. Doubleday encouraged Keller to update The Story of My Life (Blue, 703). Nella quickly learned the manual alphabet so that she could speak directly to Keller. She became a close friend and wrote the first published biography of Anne Sullivan (Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy), that was published September 13, 1933. She continued to work with Keller while writing the biography.

The Henneys owned a house on Foss Mountain in Eaton, New Hampshire that became an important refuge to Keller, Sullivan, and Thomson. The Henneys spent their summers on there and lived in Garden City, New York the rest of the year. Keller and Thomson visited in 1938, 1946, and 1956.

Nella frequently visited Arcan Ridge, Keller’s home in Connecticut, and Keller and Thomson traveled into New York City so the group could have lunch or dinner at the Harvard Club or another restaurant.

In the late 1950s, Nella introduced Keller and Thomson to William Gibson, who was developing The Miracle Worker as a screenplay based on Nella’s biography of Sullivan (Blue, 705). She took great pride in the success of The Miracle Worker. 

Nella served as Keller’s power of attorney and as her agent in literary matters before their relationship ended in 1963. She intended and hoped to write a biography about Thomson as she did for Sullivan, but the book never got written (Herrmann). 

Nella died in Snowville NH on December 30, 1973 at the age of 79.

Sources of information:

  • Blue, J. (2008) Summers on Foss: Journals of Nella Braddy Henney. 
  • Herrmann, D. (1999) Helen Keller: A Life. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 
  • Lash, J.P. (1981) Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy. American Foundation for the Blind, New York, NY.
  • McGinnity, B.L., Seymour-Ford, J. and Andries, K.J. (2004) Helen Keller. Perkins History Museum, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA.

Restrictions:

In Box 15B, Series 2 (F1-19) is restricted due to privacy concerns and copyright.

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.

Credit line/Citation:

AG151 Nella Braddy Henney Collection. Perkins School for the Blind Archives, Watertown, MA.

Scope/Contents:

This collection contains correspondence, notes, photographs, articles, clippings, publications, and other materials related to Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy, Polly Thomson, and Nella Braddy Henney. The correspondence spans the years of 1927 to 1969, and is to and from Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy, Polly Thomson, and Nella Braddy Henney between themselves and others. The notes, photographs, articles, clippings, publications,and other materials related to the lives of Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy, Polly Thomson, and Nella Braddy Henney.

The extensive correspondence collection makes up the bulk of the collection and includes letters, memos, and notes in relation to Braddy Henney’s work for Helen Keller during Keller’s lifetime, and about research for Braddy Henney’s book, Anne Sullivan Macy: The story behind Helen Keller (1933). Keller’s correspondence includes letters with others such as Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain; copies), Perkins Directors Edward E. Allen and Gabriel Farrell, Charles F.F. Campbell, actress Katherine Cornell, and other notable people. These letters were forwarded to Nella Braddy Henney for use while working on her book. 

Nella Braddy Henney’s personal journal entries are included in this collection, and supplement the correspondence. The journal entries span the years of 1939 and 1962. 

The photograph collection includes portraits, publicity photographs with prominent individuals, materials related to film projects in Hollywood, advocacy for blinded veterans, many casual images from visits to Helen Keller’s Arcan Ridge and Forest Hills homes, and trips to Martha’s Vineyard with Eleanor Roosevelt, Joseph Lash, actress Katherine Cornell, Nancy Hamilton, and other friends. Also included are photographs of Perkins staff member’s visits to the Henney’s cottage on Foss Mountain in New Hampshire. Many photographical items can be attributed to the work of Nella Braddy Henney’s husband, Keith Henney.

Arrangement:

7 series, 22 boxes and 36 binders. 

Note: Nella Braddy Henney is abbreviated NBH

  • Series 1: Original Correspondence
  • Series 2: Clippings
  • Series 3: Notes for biographies [Restricted]
  • Series 4: Materials relating to Teacher
  • Series 5: Photocopies correspondence in binders
  • Series 6: Photograph collection
  • Series 7: Publications
  • Appendix A: Index to Correspondence/Item level descriptions

Container List:

Series 1: Original Correspondence

Box 1, Folders 1-6:

  • Correspondence to NBH, 1926-1939

Box 2, Folders 1-5:

  • Correspondence to NBH, 1940-1949

Box 3, Folders 1-5:

  • Correspondence to NBH, 1950-1954

Box 4, Folders 1-5:

  • Correspondence to NBH, 1955-1958

Box 5, Folders 1-8:

  • Correspondence to NBH, 1962-1969

Box 6, Folders 1-7:

  • Correspondence from NBH, 1927-1954

Box 7, Folders 1-6:

  • Correspondence from NBH, 1955-1958

Box 8, Folders 1-4:

  • Correspondence from NBH, 1959-1969

Box 9, Folders 1-6:

  • Correspondence to and from NBH, 1959-1961

Box 10, Folders 1-4:

  • Correspondence from others to Keller, Sullivan, Thomson forwarded to NBH, 1903-1957

Box 11, Folders 1-5:

  • NBH Journal, 1938-1962

Box 12, Folders 1-14:

  • NBH Miscellaneous correspondence and clippings

Box 13, Folders 1-25:

  • Correspondence from Keller, articles and notes, 1914-1960

Box 14, Folders 1-10:

  • Correspondence Index created by Ken Stuckey and correspondence photocopies. Notes and reviews index

Box 15, Folders 1-14:

  • Miscellaneous writings, prints, negatives and clippings

Series 2: Clippings

Box 15A:

  • B15A:F1: Letter from Nancy Hamilton to NBH, undated
  • B15A:F2: Letter from Editor of ”Better Hearing” to NBH, 1956
  • B15A:F3: Clippings, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1962, 1964
  • B15A:F4: Reviews from re-issue of The Story of My Life, 1952-1954
  • B15A:F5: Reviews of Books and Movie, Esther Costella, 1953-1958
  • B15A:F6: Helen Keller, “The Unconquered” Sunday News, 1954
  • B15A:F7: Clippings, 1954-1962
  • B15A:F8: from Nancy Hamilton to NBH, 1954
  • B15A:F9: Reviews of The Unconquered, misc., 1954
  • B15A:F10: Clippings, Helen Keller, “The Unconquered”, 1954
  • B15A:F11: Reviews new editions Story of My Life, 1954
  • B15A:F12: Clippings, “Helen Keller turns 75,” Emmett Till, 1955
  • B15A:F13: Clippings, The Enlightener, 1955
  • B15A:F14: Clippings, Misc. Keller and Perkins, 1955
  • B15A:F15: Helen Keller 75th Birthday Clippings, 1955
  • B15A:F16: Clippings, Keller, letter to NBH, 1956-1957
  • B15A:F17: Deafblind clippings, The Miracle Worker, 1956-1958
  • B15A:F18: Clippings, 1957-1958
  • B15A:F19: Reviews of The Miracle Worker, mailed to NBH, 1957
  • B15A:F20: Perkins clippings (Keller, Bridgman, JWH), 1957, 1958, 1968
  • B15A:F21: Keller clippings, 1959
  • B15A:F22: Mother Courage and her children, playbill, 1963
  • B15A:F23: Helen Keller clippings, Polly Thomson death notices, 1960

Series 3: Notes for biographies (Restricted)

Box 15B:

  • B15B:F1-F9 : Biographical information and notes about Thomson, Polly, undated
  • B15B:F10-F18: Biographical information and notes about Anne Sullivan Macy, undated

Series 4: Materials relating to Teacher (by NBH)

  • B15B:F19: Notes, Correspondence, Publicity, and Reviews, ca. 1930s, undated
  • B15B:F20: Reviews,1933-1935
  • B15B:F21: Publicity, 1933-1935
  • B15B:F22: Clippings, ca. 1930s
  • B15B:F23: NBH Writing about Helen Keller, correspondence, 1955, 1957, undated

Series 5: Photocopied Correspondence in Binders, Numbered 1-36 (37 total)

  • 1: NBH Journal Vol. 1, 1938-1951
  • 2: NBH Journal Vol. 2, 1952-1955
  • 3: NBH Journal Vol. 3, 1956-1962
  • 4: Notes for book about Anne Sullivan Macy, 1934
  • 5: Notes for book about Anne Sullivan Macy, 1934
  • 6: Notes for book about Anne Sullivan Macy, 1934
  • 7: Notes for book about Anne Sullivan Macy, 1934
  • 8: Notes and Reviews, NBH book about Anne Sullivan Macy
  • 9: Clippings, 1932
  • 10: Correspondence from others to Keller, Sullivan Macy, Thomson forwarded to NBH (includes letters from Samuel Clemens, and Dir. Anagnos, 1903-1952 
  • 10A: Correspondence and Writings, many from Helen Keller to John Macy, 1914, 1933-1954
  • 11: Letters from Helen Keller to NBH, late 1920s
  • 12: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1926-1932
  • 13: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1933
  • 14: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1934-1936
  • 15: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1937
  • 16: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1940-1943
  • 17: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1944-1947
  • 18: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1948
  • 19: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1949-1950
  • 20: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1951-1952
  • 21: Correspondence to and from NBH, July 1952-1953
  • 22: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1953-1957
  • 23: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1954
  • 24: Correspondence to and from NBH, January 1955- July 1955
  • 25: Correspondence to and from NBH, August 1955- December 1956
  • 26: Correspondence to and from NBH, January 1957- June 1957
  • 27: Correspondence to and from NBH, July 1957-December 1957
  • 28: Correspondence to and from NBH, January 1958- June 1958
  • 29: Correspondence to and from NBH, July 1958- December 1959
  • 30: Correspondence to and from NBH, January 1959- July 1959
  • 31: Correspondence to and from NBH, August 1959- December 1959
  • 32: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1960
  • 33: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1961
  • 34: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1962-1963
  • 35: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1964- 1966
  • 36: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1967-1969

Series 6: Photograph Collection

Box 16

  • B16:F1: Helen Keller in the hospital [late 1960s], 21 photographs, some duplicates
  • B16:F2: Polly Thomson [1937], 1 photograph. Studio portrait of Polly Thomson, with a handwritten note to NBH.
  • B16:F3:  Hands [1960s], 16 photographs, with duplicates. Keller’s hands reading Braille.  
  • B16:F4: At Forest Hills home [n. d. (1930s-1950s)], 24 photographs and contact sheets, some duplicates. Many photographs taken by Nella’s husband, Keith Henney.
  • B16:F5: At Home in Forest Hills [circa 1919, undated, 1930s-1950s], 8 photographs, some duplicates.  Many taken by Nella’s husband, Keith Henney.
  • B16:F6:  Helen Keller, at home, alone or with her dog. [undated, ca. 1930s-1950s], 30 photographs, some duplicates. Many photographs by Keith Henney.
  • B16:F7: Various [circa 1930s-1960s], 14 photographs. Some photographs by Keith Henney.
  • B16:F8: Advocate and traveler [undated, 1920s-1960s], 18 photographs. 
  • B16:F9: Martha Graham’s dance studio [ca. 1954], 5 photographs. 
  • B16:F10: Visiting Durban, South Africa and Madras, India [ca. 1955, early 1950s] 6 photographs, some duplicates.
  • B16:F11: Martha’s Vineyard [1954], 8 photographs and 1 letter. 
  • B16:F12: Martha’s Vineyard [1961], 3 color photographs and 1 letter.  
  • B16:F13: Anne Sullivan’s birthplace [undated], 3 color photographs. 
  • B16:F14: Harry Colt visiting Keith Henney at Foss Mountain, New Hampshire [circa 1976]
  • B16:F15: Kenneth Stuckey’s visit to Keith Henney at Foss Mountain, New Hampshire [circa 1980s], 10 color photographs, 3 letters.
  • B16:F16: Nella Braddy Henney photographs [undated], 20 photographs of Helen Keller and Polly Thomson

Box 17:

Note: Numbering references original ordering system.

  • B17:Album 1: 
  • 5234: about 27 photographs; “Forest Hills, dogs, HK, Herbert in kitchen early 1938”
  • 5235: about 15 photographs; 1938, “HK, Polly, NBH, #10” sitting indoors
  • 5236: about 30 photographs; “May 1940, HK’s house, Herbert Harry, #9, Ellis”, panatomic X film.
  • 5237: about 12 photograph; , 1938, 1939 “HK New Hamp, dogs, #2” many variations of dog with Helen Keller, Eastman panchromatic film
  • 5238: about 26 photographs; 1940, “HK in G. C., #6, [Rimuo] and Polly” Garden City probably, many variations of three women (Keller, NBH, Thomson) on Adirondack chairs on the grass and of dogs
  • 5240: about 12 photographs; undated, (HK, Polly, Forest Hills, #8) dark dress with white pattern with scalloped edge collar. At Brailler typing, reading, working,
  • 5241: about 27 photographs; “HK, Dogs etc [frank?], 1]”, woodpile outside, dogs, unidentified man (possibly handyman Herbert)
  • 5242: about 37 photographs; “HK Forest Hills, Herbert, Hands 5”
  • 5243: about 41 photographs; “Forest Hills, 1937, dog fight, #11, NBH”, in fur coats, with Polly Thomson on lawn with dogs, man- possibly handyman Herbert
  • B17:Album 2
  • 5244: about 13 photographs; “HK and Polly and NBH, HK working on forward galleys, 1938, Forest Hills
  • 5245: about 26 photographs; “GC and NH, HK” Braddy Henney, Helen Keller, Garden City,     
  •     inside at table and on lawn
  • 5246: about 16 photographs; “Hospital, HK, NBH” 
  • 5247- 5248: about 17 photographs; “HK Rocketts Misc, Arcan house, #5” many close-ups of dogs, home

Box 18

Note: Numbering references original ordering system.

  • 35 mm negatives, 15 rolls of film labeled 5230-5248, 14 in envelopes, 1 in loose canister and 1 negative strip in photo lab envelope. Prints in Box 17
  • Large red and white envelope- 5 negatives, on porch with wagon labeled “Stuckey 1/26/90”
  • Loose canister (clear plastic), on lawn of Forest Hills home, with car outside
  • 5230: about 22 photographs, undated, “Dogs, #4”, at home, table with food, dogs
  • 5234: “Forest Hills, dogs, HK, Herbert in kitchen early 1938”
  • 5235: 1938, “HK, Polly, NBH, #10” sitting indoors
  • 5236: “May 1940, HK’s house, Herbert Harry, #9, Ellis”, panatomic X film.
  • 5237: 1938, 1939 “HK New Hamp, dogs, #2” many variations of dog with Helen Keller, Eastman panchromatic film
  • 5238: 1940, “HK in G. C., #6, [Rimuo] and Polly” Garden City probably, many variations of three women (Keller, NBH, Thomson) on Adirondack chairs on the grass and of dogs
  • 5240: undated, (HK, Polly, Forest Hills, #8) dark dress with white pattern with scalloped edge collar. At Brailler typing, reading, working,
  • 5241: “HK, Dogs etc [frank?], 1]”, woodpile outside, dogs,     unidentified man (possibly handyman Herbert)
  • 5242: “HK Forest Hills, Herbert, Hands 5”
  • 5243: “Forest Hills, 1937, dog fight, #11, NBH”, in fur coats, with Polly Thomson on lawn with dogs, man- possibly handyman Herbert
  • 5244: “HK and Polly and NBH, HK working on forward galleys, 1938, Forest Hills
  • 5245: “GC and NH, HK” Braddy Henney, Helen Keller, Garden City, inside at table and on lawn
  • 5246: “Hospital, HK, NBH” 
  • 5247- 5248: “HK Rocketts Misc, Arcan house, #5” many close-ups of dogs, home

Series 7: Publications

Box 19:

  • Monograph: “Anne Sullivan Macy” by Nella Braddy Henney    

Box 20:

  • Braille monograph: “My Religion Part II” by Helen Keller
  • Appendix A: Index to Correspondence

Provenance:

Donated by Keith Henney, Nella Braddy Henney’s spouse, circa 1975.

Subject Headings:

  • Keller, Helen, 1880-1968.
  • Macy, Anne Sullivan, 1866-1936
  • Henney, Nella Braddy, 1894-1973
  • Perkins School for the Blind
  • Thomson, Polly
  • Eaton, New Hampshire (USA)
  • Cornell, Katharine, 1893-1974
  • Gibson, William, 1914-2008. Miracle worker

Existence and Location of Copies

Links to digitized reproductions of the collection on the Internet Archive and select digital reproductions with full transcriptions on Perkins Archives Flickr are available on the digitized Nella Braddy Henney collection guide.

Explore more resources from the Archives

Learn more about our collections, including digitized materials, and resources related to the history of Perkins School for the Blind and the history of education for people with blindness or deafblindness.