Helen Keller came into the world on June 27, 1880. At the age of 19 months, she lost the senses of sight, smell, and hearing due to an attack of scarlet fever. Keller’s parents requested that a teacher from the Perkins Institution (now Perkins School for the Blind) in Boston, Massachusetts, be sent to instruct the child. Anne M. Sullivan was sent in 1887 to the Keller home in Tuscumbia, Alabama, to train her according to the methods of S. G. Howe.
From 1888 onwards, at the Perkins Institution and under Sarah Fuller at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf, Keller not only learned to read, write, and talk, but also became proficient in the standard curriculum, several languages, and mathematics. Unfortunately, no exact record of the steps of her education was kept.
In 1900, Keller entered Radcliffe College, where—with the aid of tutors and special proctors (and, of course, her friend and teacher Anne Sullivan, who remained with her throughout)—she graduated cum laude in 1904. After her college education, she began working extensively in causes for the blind all over the world. She made many tours and held fund-raising benefits for the American Foundation for the Blind.
During and after World War II, she was untiring in her efforts to aid blinded veterans, orphans, and refugees. Various honors, awards, and honorary degrees and citations were conferred upon Keller by foreign governments and civic, educational, and welfare organizations throughout the United States. Keller represents one of the most remarkable cases to date of a person who overcame severe disabilities to make outstanding contributions to society. Her writings include Optimism, An Essay (1903), The Song of the Stone Wall (1910), Helen Keller’s Journal (1938), Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy; A Tribute by the Foster-child of Her Mind, Helen Keller (1955), and others.