Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview

HELEN ADAMS KELLER (1880-1968), advocate for the blind, socialist, and feminist

MARIN PEARSON ALLEN

Helen Adams Keller is undeniably the most famous, accomplished deaf-blind woman in U.S. history. Her achievements in writing and speaking brought her international fame. The public became aware of her accomplishments through news reports and stories in juvenile magazines and through her articles, which appeared in such publications as the Ladies Home Journal and the New York Times, and her journals and books. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life ( 1954), was translated into more than fifty languages. The public also learned about her life and activities through motion pictures and newsreels, through her public appearances on the lyceum and vaudeville circuits, and through books and stories about her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy.

Throughout her eighty years, Helen Keller faced extraordinary obstacles. She was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, to Kate Adams and Captain Arthur H. Keller, who was a former Confederate officer and the editor of The North Alabamian. At the age of 19 months, she lost her ability to see and hear after a high fever of undiagnosed origin. Her parents, desiring to educate their daughter, found a tutor for her through Alexander Graham Bell, who sent them to Michael Anagnos at the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Anagnos recommended Anne Mansfield Sullivan to them. Sullivan herself had had such difficulties with her vision that she had been a student at Perkins. On March 3, 1887, she arrived at the Keller home in Alabama, a date that Helen Keller would refer to repeatedly as "her soul's birthday" ( Harrity and Martin, 1962:31).

The relationship between Keller and Sullivan was stormy at first as Sullivan tried to bring some discipline to the life of a child who had been raised without limits or rules. She had tried to spell words into the resistant child's hand, but on the day that would be immortalized in books and plays and on film and television in such works as William Gibson The Miracle Worker, a breakthrough occurred at the water pump when Keller suddenly understood the symbolic link between words and their referents.

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Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Ti-Grace Atkinson 1
  • Emily Greene Balch 25
  • Clare Boothe Luce 40
  • Rachel Louise Carson 72
  • Margaret Chase Smith 90
  • Mary Daly 120
  • Jessie Daniel Ames 134
  • Andrea Dworkin 175
  • Geraldine Ann Ferraro 190
  • Helen Gahagan Douglas (1900-1980), Member of Congress, Defender of Liberal Democratic Principles, Advocate for Women's Equity 207
  • Margaret Higgins Sanger 238
  • Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968), Advocate for the Blind, Socialist, and Feminist 254
  • Aimee Kennedy Semple Mcpherson 273
  • Catharine A. Mackinnon 287
  • Robin Evonne Morgan 306
  • Pauli Murray 319
  • Leonora O'Reilly 331
  • Frances Perkins 345
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman 359
  • Anna Eleanor Roosevelt 379
  • Patricia Scott Schroeder 395
  • Phyllis Stewart Schlafly 409
  • Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer 424
  • Alyce Faye Wattleton 436
  • Ann Willis Richards 452
  • Martha Wright Griffiths 465
  • Index 477
  • About the Contributors 489
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