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Helen Keller And Her Doll

Saturday, March 22, 2008


When I was in 6th or 7th grade, my class took a field trip to Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, the home of Helen Keller. I was sooo interested in how she overcame so much, went on to graduate college, and became an inspiration to people around the world.

It all started in a little white wooden house set back from the street, and at the well pump that is also still there today.

The two images above are copyright-free/in the public domain because of their age, but the picture I really want to show is the earliest-known picture of Helen and Anne Sullivan together - it's from 1888 and shows Helen holding what is probably the doll that Anne gave her as a gift when Anne came to live at Ivy Green. The New England Historic Genealogical Society came upon it earlier this year when a large collection of family photographs came into their possession - it was a from a family who happened to vacation at the same house Anne and Helen were, in Cape Cod, and happened to take a picture of the two of them together.

NPR did a story about it that can be listened to here. The press release from the NEHGS is here (it's a PDF).

Today, there is an organization called Helen Keller International, and this is their mission:
Founded in 1915, Helen Keller International (HKI) is among the oldest international nonprofit organizations devoted to fighting and treating preventable blindness and malnutrition. HKI is headquartered in New York City, and has programs in 22 countries in Africa and Asia as well as in the United States. HKI builds local capacity by establishing sustainable programs, and provides scientific and technical assistance and data to governments and international, regional, national and local organizations around the world.
HKI programs combat malnutrition, cataract, trachoma, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and refractive error. The goal of all HKI programs is to reduce suffering of those without access to needed health or vision care and ultimately, to help lift people from poverty.
Isn't that great? Here's the link on how to contribute, and they have an "A" rating by the American Institute of Philanthropy and a four-star efficiency rating from Charity Navigator which is good too.

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