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Helen Keller, 1880-1968, The First Lady of Courage

Written By: Rit Nosotro  |  Posted: Saturday, May 14th, 2011

            In Tuscumbia, Alabama on June 27, 1880 Captain Arthur H. and Kate Adams Keller had a beautiful baby girl named Helen Adams Keller. Tragedy struck when little Helen was 5 months shy of her second birthday. She was overcome by a terrible illness that left her blind and deaf. Helen's doctors told her parents it was a "brain fever." However, modern doctors and researchers still are not sure whether it was meningitis, scarlet fever, or a severe bout of encephalitis.

            Although quite intelligent, due to the fact that Helen could neither speak nor hear she had developmental difficulties. Communication was nearly impossible. By the time Helen was seven, she was so unmanageable that her family had just about given up hope. On February 3, 1887, Helen's father wrote a letter to Alexander Graham Bell, who eleven years earlier had also the invented the telephone, thanking the inventor for taking an interest in his little girl. By May of 1888 Helen's family and Bell were exchanging many letters. Alexander advised Mrs. Keller to write the Perkins School for the Blind, an establishment Mrs. Keller recognized from the Dickens' novel 'American Notes'. Michael Anagnos, the director of Perkins School sent a young graduate of the institute to live with them. Her name was Anne Sullivan.

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