A rare early photograph of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan has been discovered in Boston. A staff member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society found the 1888 photograph in a large photography collection recently donated to the Society by Thaxter Spencer. It is believed to be the earliest photograph of Keller and Sullivan together and is the only one known showing Keller with one of her dolls, which were important in her early education.
A worldwide celebrity and noted intellectual often named as one of the most admired women of the 20th century, Helen Keller was one of the great American radical socialists, an early feminist and eloquent champion of many progressive causes such as universal suffrage, birth control, and pacifism. She helped found the American Civil Liberties Union and was a longtime supporter of the American Foundation for the Blind. She was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson and is pictured on the Alabama State quarter (a coin, for those not familiar with American money).
She is best remembered today for the story of how she overcame profound deafness and blindness with the help of her teacher Sullivan. The story has been dramatized many times, perhaps most notably in the 1959 play and subsequent 1962 film "The Miracle Worker" starring Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft.
Featured Comment by Damon: "Really a beautiful photo. And thanks for the write up. It's most intriguing and makes me want to read a good biography of Helen Keller. I'm afraid my knowledge of her stops at what they taught us in grade 5 or so. Any suggestions?"
Mike replies: I haven't read it, but her autobiography is well regarded.