Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her birthplace in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, is now a museum and sponsors an annual “Helen Keller Day.” Take a look below for 30 more awesome and interesting facts about Helen Keller.
1. Her birthday on June 27 is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and was authorized at the federal level by presidential proclamation by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, the 100th anniversary of her birth.
2. A prolific author, Keller was well-traveled and outspoken in her convictions.
3. A member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, she campaigned for women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, antimilitarism, and other similar causes.
4. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971 and was one of the twelve inaugural inductees to the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame on June 8, 2015.
5. Keller was born on June 27th, 1880, to Arthur H. Keller and Kate Adams.
6. She was born with both her sight and hearing, but when she was approximately one and a half years old, she became very ill and lost both her sight and hearing.
7. Doctors described her illness as, “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain.” It’s unclear as to whether it was meningitis or scarlet fever.
8. When Keller was six years old, her mother sought help and was referred to Alexander Graham Bell, who then referred them to the Perkins Institute for the Blind.
9. At the Perkins Institute for the Blind, Keller met Anne Sullivan, who became her instructor, governess and eventually, her companion.
10. Keller was able to attend school because of Sullivan’s assistance and, in 1904, she became the first deaf and blind person to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
11. Keller’s family lived on land and in a home that was owned and built by her grandfather.
12. She had one younger sister and two older stepbrothers.
13. Keller began speaking when she was only six months old and she began walking when she was one year old.
14. Keller and her family’s cook’s daughter, Martha Washington, developed a type of sign language. By the time Keller was seven years old, they had more than 60 signs to help them communicate.
15. The first word that Keller learned to finger spell was “water.” By the end of that day, she had learned 30 words in total.
16. Keller began her speech classes in Boston at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in 1890.
17. She attended the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City from 1894 to 1896 where she improved her communication skills and was able to study regular school subjects.
18. Keller attended the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in 1896. It was a prep school.
19. It was during her time at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies that Keller met Mark Twain and the two became friends.
20. Mark Twain introduced Keller to Henry H. Rogers, an executive at Standard Oil. He was so impressed by Keller that he agreed to pay for her education at Radcliffe College.
21. Keller learned to communicate at Radcliffe College with finger-spelling, typing, speech, braille, and touch-lip reading.
22. Keller wrote a book called “The Story of My Life” in 1902. She was the first person who was deaf and blind to write a book.
23. She was a founding member of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. This was the first agency to provide services for the blind.
24. In 1924, Keller began working with the American Foundation for the Blind. This association lasted for the rest of her life.
25. In the 1940s and 1950s, Keller traveled to 39 countries to encourage the establishment of schools for the blind and deaf.
26. Keller visited veteran’s hospitals during World War II to provide encouragement to those who were blinded during the war.
27. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 for her work on behalf of those with disabilities.
28. Beginning with President Grover Cleveland, Keller met every United States President until John F. Kennedy.
29. Keller loved dogs and was the first person in the United States to have an Akita.
30. Anne Sullivan and Keller remained close for the rest of Anne’s life, until she died in 1936.