Anne Sullivan

Anne Sullivan, helen keller, helen keller photos, helen keller pictures, ann sullivan, hellen keller

History is often a series of events lost in the mists of the past. Then one day, something surfaces to bring it back to life. That's exactly what's happened in the U.S. this week, after a rare picture surfaced that shows two of the world's legendary figures in their earliest days together.

The picture at left is the oldest known likeness of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan. It was taken in July 1888 in Cape Cod and shows the blind-deaf child who became an inspiration holding a doll. The word "doll" was the first one Sullivan ever spelled into Keller's hand, and it happened just a year before the picture was taken.

Keller's story has inspired generations. With Sullivan's help, she managed to learn to read Braille and write, without the benefit of hearing, sight or speech. And their work together has changed lives for more than a hundred years.

Where has this rare frozen-in-time shot been all this time? It was in a pile of pictures belonging to 87-year-old Thaxter Spencer, who donated his photos and other heirlooms to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which keeps track of the state's past.

Spencer's mother was on vacation at the home where the picture was taken at the same time as the Keller family. His late mom, who was four years younger than Helen, often recalled how the blind-deaf child would feel her face with her hand, a means she used to identify people.

"I never thought much about it," Spencer relates about the photo. "It just seemed like something no one would find very interesting."

Historians are marveling at this glimpse into an era and a celebrated partnership thought long lost to time. "It's really one of the best images I've seen in a long, long time," agrees Helen Selsdon, an archivist at the American Foundation for the Blind. "This is just a huge visual addition to the history of Helen and Annie."

"The way Anne is gazing so intently at Helen, I think it's a beautiful portrait of the devotion that lasted between these two women all of Anne's life," adds Jan Seymour-Ford of Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, which Sullivan and Keller both attended.

Sullivan remained by her most famous pupil's side until she died in 1936. Keller went on to become a world renowned author, scholar and humanitarian. She passed away in 1968.

While "doll" was the first world Sullivan signed in Keller's hand, it was "water" that finally got through to the child, who had been an angry and out-of-control youngster because of her inability to communicate.

Their story has since become legendary in the Broadway play and movie "The Miracle Worker", which won both Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft acting Oscars in 1962.

More about Hellen Keller HERE

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