Nella Braddy Henney Collection

Samuel P. Hayes Research Library
Perkins School for the Blind
175 N. Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472

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); 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. https://www.perkins.org/history/people/helen-keller

Restrictions: 
In Box 15B, Series 2 (F1-19) is restricted.
Credit line/Citation: 
Nella Braddy Henney Collection. Perkins School for the Blind.
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

Some boxes link to the item-level description and full-text digital collections. Transcriptions of much of the handwritten correspondence are available in the Nella Braddy Henney Collection Highlights Flickr Collection. Transcription work is in progress. Boxes 3-5 transcriptions are available on request by emailing Archives@Perkins.org.  

Box 1: Folder 1-6: Correspondence to NBH, 1926-1939

Box 2: Folder 1-5: Correspondence to NBH, 1940-1949

Box 3: Folder 1-5: Correspondence to NBH, 1950-1954

Box 4: Folder 1-5: Correspondence to NBH, 1955-1958

Box 5: Folder 1-8: Correspondence to NBH, 1962-1969

Box 6: Folder 1-7: Correspondence from NBH, 1927-1954

Box 7: Folder 1-6: Correspondence from NBH, 1955-1958

Box 8: Folder 1-4: Correspondence from NBH, 1959-1969

Box 9: Folder 1-6: Correspondence to and from NBH, 1959-1961

Box 10: Folder 1-4: Correspondence from others to Keller, Sullivan, Thomson forwarded to NBH, 1903-1957

Box 11: Folder 1-5: NBH Journal, 1938-1962

Box 12: Folder 1-14: NBH Miscellaneous correspondence and clippings

Box 13: Folder 1-25: Correspondence from Keller, articles and notes, 1914-1960

Box 14: Folder 1-10: Correspondence Index created by Ken Stuckey and correspondence photocopies. Notes and reviews index

Box 15: Folder 1-14: Miscellaneous writings, prints, negatives and clippings

Box 15A: 

Series 2: Clippings

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

Box 15B: 

Series 3: Notes for biographies (RESTRICTED)

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: 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: 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)

 

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