​Birth Name: Helen Adams Keller

Born: June 27, 1880

Birthplace: Tuscumbia, Alabama

Died: June 1, 1968

Helen Keller overcame her disabilities of blindness 
and deafness to become a woman respected around 
the world for her work as a humanitarian, author, and 
advocate for women and those with disabilities. She 
was an avowed socialist, suffragist and pacifist.

She became world famous as a speaker and author. 
She followed the spiritual philosophy of the 
Swedborgians. She was a radical woman for her time, 
a fact which has been lost somewhat in the glow of 
fame and time. 

Helen had three significant companions during her lifetime. Anne 
Sullivan is the best known, as she came to tutor the young Helen 
at the age of seven and remained her companion until her death 
in 1936. After that Helen was accompanied by a young woman 
from Scotland, Polly Thompson, who had been her secretary and 
became her companion. She died in 1960, and after that Helen 
Keller’s companion was a nurse named Winnie Corbally; she stayed 
with Helen until her death in 1968.

Helen Keller graduated with honors from Radcliffe University in 1904, the first deafblind person to attain a bachelor’s degree. She later published 12 books and numerous articles. She worked for the American Foundation for the Blind for the last 44 years of her life. There are numerous portrayals of her life in art; the most famous is the movie, “The Miracle Worker.” She once said, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.”

Links: National Foundation for the Blind http://www.nfb.org/

  Helen Keller Foundation http://www.helenkellerfoundation.org/

  American Foundation for the Blind, Helen Keller Archives http://www.afb.org/ead/eadmain.asp

Sculpture Notes: The content of this image is meant to capture the moment of epiphany for Helen Keller, when she first connected the meaning of “water” from her family pump trickling over her hand to the letters “water” being spelled into her other hand by her tutor, Anne Sullivan. This is the first sculpture of a child, and the first sculptor of a person with a disability, in the U.S. capital building. Commissioned by Alabama Governor Bob Riley and his wife Patsy, it was thought that the image of a child would be an inspiration to children who visit the capital building. Also, it was designed to be appreciated by those who are informed by tactile sensations; the bronze markers are lettered in both alphabet text and Braille. The sculptor made a second casting of the statue and sent it to the Alabama governor for the benefit of those who are unable to travel to Washington D.C. It may be seen in the Alabama State Capital building.  

Sculptor: Edward Hlavka, a Utah artist

Installation Date: October 7, 2009

Media: Base is white marble from Alabama; Statue is bronze

Location: Capital Rotunda, Washington, D.C.

Date of Photo: October 3, 2011


Helen Keller