Robert R. Chaney Helen Keller Collection

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

Creator: 

Robert R. Chaney

Date Range: 
1927-1968, bulk 1930s
Call number: 
AG83
Abstract: 

A collection of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and hardcover books documenting the friendship between Robert R. Chaney and Helen Keller, Polly Thomson, and Anne Sullivan Macy. Topics include discussion of travel, informal communication, book reviews, event reports, and other matters related to Helen Keller’s life.

Extent: 
2.5 linear feet
Language: 
English
Processed by: 

Susanna Coit, 2018

Biographical/Historical notes: 

Robert Roy Chaney was one of 13 children and the only boy among his siblings to leave the family farm. In high school, he was awarded a scholarship to a two year program for accounting. He became a newspaper reporter in New York and befriended Helen Keller through his work.  After working together, Chaney, with his wife Thelma, remained friends with Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, and Polly Thomson.

Restrictions: 
None
Credit line/Citation: 
Robert R. Chaney Helen Keller Collection, Perkins School for the Blind
Scope/Contents: 

This collection documents the relationship that Robert Chaney and his wife, Thelma, had with Helen Keller, Polly Thomson, and Anne Sullivan Macy. The collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and hardcover books. Correspondence features descriptions of travels as well as other informal, friendly communications. Newspaper clippings consist of stories about topics and people related to Keller, including book reviews, event reports, and announcements of her birthday and death. Photographs include group photos as well as photographic greetings signed by Keller. Many of the hardcover books include inscriptions to Robert and Thelma Chaney from Keller.

Arrangement: 

B1:F1 = Box 1: Folder 1

RC = Robert/Roy Chaney

TC = Thelma Chaney

PT = Polly Thomson

 

This collection is arranged in four series. The contents of each series are arranged chronologically when possible. The Series are arranged as follows:

 

Series 1: Correspondence

Series 2: Photographs

Series 3: Clippings

Series 4: Books

Container List: 

Box 1:

Series 1: Correspondence
B1: F1: Correspondence, 1928-1936
Letter from  “Windy” (envelope is in PT’s handwriting, postmarked October 21, 1930), Christmas, 1928
Letter from Leslie Fulenwider, March 22, 1930
Letter from Anne Sullivan, October 20, 1930 (3 pages)
Letter from Anne Sullivan, December 23, 1930 (2 pages) (envelope is postmarked November 17, 1930)
Letter to RC and TC from Anne Sullivan, September 7, 1931 (3 pages)
Letter to RC and TC from Anne Sullivan, October 17, 1931 (misdated 1831) (envelope is postmarked May 12, 1938) (2 pages)
Empty envelope to RC in PT’s handwriting, postmarked October 26, 1931
Western Union Telegram from Anne Sullivan, December 22, 1931
Letter to Barbara Anne from Anne Sullivan (“Aunt Anne”) (in Polly Thomson’s handwriting), Christmas, 1932
Letter from Nella Braddy Henney (with notecard from ASM), December 25, 1933 (envelope is postmarked December 26, 1933)
Letter to RC and TC from Polly Thomson, February 7, 1934 (6 pages)
Letter to RC and TC from Polly Thomson, December 6, 1936 (3 pages)

B1: F2: Correspondence, 1938-1945
Letter from Polly Thomson (with newspaper clipping), August 25, 1937
Letter from Polly Thomson, April 11, 1938 (2 pages)
Letter from Polly Thomson,  April 20, 1938 (2 pages)
Letter from Polly Thomson, March 4, 1939 (3 pages)
Letter from Polly Thomson, envelope postmarked March 17, 1939
Letter to RC and TC from Polly Thomson, envelope postmarked May 2, 1939
Letter to TC from Polly Thomson, envelope postmarked May 16, 1939
Letter to RC, TC, and Barbara Anne from Polly Thomson and Helen Keller, December 1943 (2 pages)
Letter to RC and TC from Polly Thomson, envelope postmarked April 6, 1945

B1: F3: Correspondence, undated
Letter from Polly Thomson (photo mailer), undated
Western Union Telegram from Anne Sullivan, undated
Letter to Thelma Chaney from Anne Sullivan, November 17 (no year)
Western Union Telegram from Anne Sullivan, undated
Letter to RC and TC from Polly Thomson, February 24 (no year) (2 pages)

Series 2: Photographs
B1: F4: Photographs
Silhouette, unidentified male
Robert Chaney (with Helen Keller’s monkey) in Forest Hills, undated
Group photo including Helen Keller, Polly Thomson, Anne Sullivan, and Robert Chaney, undated
Scrapbook page with photos of Robert Chaney, Forest Hills house, Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, and Polly Thomson, undated    Portrait photograph, inscribed to RC and TC from Polly Thomson and Helen Keller, January 1, 1938
Portrait photograph, signed by Helen Keller, undated

B1: F5: Toast, 1928
Toast to Robert and Thelma Chaney, signed by Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy, and Polly Thomson, April 14, 1928

B1: F6:
Signed large photograph of Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, Polly Thomson, with a dog, May 1918

B1: F7:
Christmas greeting, large photograph of Helen Keller, signed by Helen Keller, 1925

Series 3: Clippings
B1: F8: Clippings (copies), 1927-1968, undated
“Helen Keller to Aid in Appeal,” The Birmingham News--Age-Herald, November 6, 1927
“John A. Macy Dead; Was Noted Critic,” New York Times, August 28, 1932
“The Liberator of Helen Keller,” The New York Times Book Review, October 1, 1933
“Helen Keller Stirred By Space Probes,” Orlando Sentinel, June 27, 1963
“Nation Readies Tribute,” Orlando Sentinel, June 25, 1965
“World Salutes Great Woman: Helen Keller Celebrates 87th Birthday,” Northwest Shopper, June 21, 1967
“Helen Keller 87,” [publication unknown], June 27, 1967
“Helen Keller Dies at 87 in Connecticut,” Chicago Tribune, June 2, 1968
[Clipping with finger-spelling alphabet], [publication unknown], undated
“A Life-Long Devotion,” [publication unknown], undated
[Clipping of photo of Helen Keller listening to radio], [publication unknown], undated
“‘I Shook Shaw’s Hand: It Bristled With Egotism’ -- Helen Keller,” The Boston Sunday [ ], undated
“Woman Who Taught Helen Keller Seeks To Regain Her Sight,” [publication unknown], undated
“Helen Keller Prays For Strength To Endure Darkness Until Late Teacher Smiles Upon Her Again,” [publication unknown], October 20 [year unknown]

B1: F9: Clippings (originals)
See F8

Series 4: Books
Box 2:
My Key to Life by Helen Keller
B2: F1:
Clipping, no publication or date information

Box 3:
Out of the Dark by Helen Keller, inscribed to Roy Chaney from Helen Keller, February 1929

Box 4:
We Bereaved by Helen Keller, 1929

B4: F1:
Note to Polly Thomson from Roy Chaney, April 14, 1938
Note to Roy Chaney from Polly Thomson (forwarding letter from Louis Sobol), April 26, 1938

Box 5:
We Bereaved by Helen Keller, 1929

Box 6:
The World I Live In by Helen Keller, inscribed to Roy and Thelma Chaney from Helen Keller, 1929

Box 7:
Midstream: My Later Life by Helen Keller, inscribed to Roy and Thelma Chaney by Polly Thomson, Anne Sullivan, and Helen Keller, December 1929

Box 8:
My Religion by Helen Keller, inscribed to Thelma Chaney from Helen Keller, February 1929

Box 9:
Anne Sullivan Macy: The Story Behind Helen Keller by Nella Braddy, 1933

Box 10:
Helen Keller’s Journal, inscribed to Roy and Thelma Chaney, April 22, 1938

Provenance: 
This collection was donated to the Perkins Archives by a family member in July 2018.
Subject Headings: 

Famous Features Syndicate, Inc.

Henney, Nella Braddy

Keller, Helen

Perkins School for the Blind.

Perkins School for the Blind--History.

Sullivan, Anne

Thomson, Polly

Copyright © Perkins School for the Blind