Helen Keller, circa 1907
Helen Keller (born June 27, 1880; died June 1, 1968) was an activist and author. Blind and deaf herself, Keller was a passionate advocate for persons with disabilities.
Helen Adams Keller was born in Alabama in 1880. At 19 months old, she lost her sight and hearing due to a serious illness (often believed to be either scarlet fever or meningitis). When she was 6, her parents hired Anne Sullivan from the Perkins Institute for the Blind to be Keller’s teacher. Sullivan would be Keller’s companion until Sullivan’s death in 1936.
With Sullivan’s help, the young Helen Keller learned to communicate through finger signs. She would also learn to speak, to read and write in braille, and to touch-lip read. In adolescence, Keller attended a series of schools and then graduated from Radcliffe College of Harvard University in 1904.
Keller’s amazing achievements made her a celebrity from a young age. She delivered lectures across the country and around the world throughout her life. She also wrote numerous books, including her autobiography “The Story of My Life” (1903). Keller was a vocal activist for women, people with disabilities, and the working class and co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
She was widely admired, despite some criticism for her support of Socialism. Keller received many honors and awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal (1936) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964).
Helen Keller died in Connecticut in 1968 at age 87, after suffering a series of strokes.
Learn more about Helen Keller through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.
Articles and Clippings about Helen Keller
7-year-old Helen Keller is discussed in a New York newspaper, 4 months after meeting Anne Sullivan Mon, Jul 11, 1887 – Page 3 · The Sun (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.comArticle about abilities and achievements of Helen Keller as a child, with quotes from Anne Sullivan Fri, Mar 2, 1888 – 2 · The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.comLetter giving account of 10 year-old Helen Keller's progress and of her learning to speak Fri, Feb 20, 1891 – 4 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, United States of America) · Newspapers.comImage of Helen Keller at age 11 and a description of her appearance and education Fri, Mar 25, 1892 – 1 · Lincoln Evening Call (Lincoln, Nebraska, United States of America) · Newspapers.comHelen Keller begins attending Radcliffe College of Harvard University at age 20 in 1900 Fri, Oct 19, 1900 – Page 2 · Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, Buncombe, North Carolina, United States of America) · Newspapers.comHelen Keller's "The Story of My Life" is published in 1903; article includes book quotes and photos Mon, Mar 23, 1903 – Page 7 · The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Cook, Illinois) · Newspapers.comHelen Keller graduates from Radcliffe College; Article describes Keller's learning methods Wed, Jun 29, 1904 – Page 5 · Reading Times (Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comNewspaper account of lecture Helen Keller gave in Boston in 1913; Includes quotes from her speech Tue, Mar 25, 1913 – 10 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States of America) · Newspapers.com"Helen Keller Gives Interview to Newspaperwomen; Tells How She Enjoys Life to Fullest Extent" Wed, Jan 12, 1916 – 10 · Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa, United States of America) · Newspapers.com1921 newspaper article explains how Helen Keller came to support socialism Wed, Aug 31, 1921 – Page 6 · The Minneapolis Star (Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States of America) · Newspapers.com1930 article summarizes Helen Keller's accomplishments and achievements at age 50 Fri, Jun 27, 1930 – 12 · Star-Gazette (Elmira, Chemung, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.comFeature article on Anne Sullivan: "The other Self of Helen Keller" Sun, Nov 19, 1933 – 83 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America) · Newspapers.comPhoto of Helen Keller and Polly Thompson at funeral for Anne Sullivan Macy Tue, Nov 3, 1936 – 6 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States of America) · Newspapers.comAustralian newspaper gives account of Helen Keller's 1938 visit to Japan and lecture Sat, Mar 5, 1938 – Page 32 · The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) · Newspapers.com"Helen Keller, America's 1st Lady of Courage, Marks 75th Birthday" Mon, Jun 27, 1955 – Page 3 · Palladium-Item (Richmond, Wayne, Indiana, United States of America) · Newspapers.comNewspaper images from the life of Helen Keller Thu, Jul 18, 1963 – 12 · The Crowley Post-Signal (Crowley, Louisiana, United States of America) · Newspapers.comObituary for Helen Keller after her death in 1968 at age 87 Sun, Jun 2, 1968 – Page 1 · The Greenville News (Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, United States of America) · Newspapers.comDescription of Ivy Green, Helen Keller's Alabama house and museum, in 1987 Sun, Jun 7, 1987 – Page 165 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com