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 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher

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Misti
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PostSubject: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:06 pm

1888 photo depicts Helen Keller, teacher



BOSTON (AP) -- Researchers have uncovered a rare photograph of a young Helen Keller with her teacher Anne Sullivan, nearly 120 years after it was taken on Cape Cod. The photograph, shot in July 1888 in Brewster, shows an 8-year-old Helen sitting outside in a light-colored dress, holding Sullivan's hand and cradling one of her beloved dolls.

Experts on Keller's life believe it could be the earliest photo of the two women together and the only one showing the blind and deaf child with a doll - the first word Sullivan spelled for Keller after they met in 1887 - according to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which now has the photo.

"It's really one of the best images I've seen in a long, long time," said Helen Selsdon, an archivist at the American Foundation for the Blind, where Keller worked for more than 40 years. "This is just a huge visual addition to the history of Helen and Annie."

For more than a century, the photograph has belonged to the family of Thaxter Spencer, an 87-year-old man in Waltham.

Spencer's mother, Hope Thaxter Parks, often stayed at the Elijah Cobb House on Cape Cod during the summer as a child. In July 1888, she played with Keller, whose family had traveled from Tuscumbia, Ala., to vacation in Massachusetts.

Spencer, who doesn't know which of his relatives took the picture, told the society that his mother, four years younger than Helen, remembered Helen exploring her face with her hands.

In June, Spencer donated a large collection of photo albums, letters, diaries and other heirlooms to the genealogical society, which preserves artifacts from New England families for future research.

"I never thought much about it," Spencer said in a statement released by the society. "It just seemed like something no one would find very interesting." Spencer has recently been hospitalized and could not be reached for comment.

It wasn't until recently that staff at the society realized the photograph's significance. Advocates for the blind say they had never heard of it, though after they announced its discovery Wednesday they learned it had published in 1987 in a magazine on Cape Cod and a half-century earlier in The Boston Globe. It is unclear whether there was more than one copy of the photograph.

D. Brenton Simons, the society's president and CEO, said the photograph offers a glimpse of what was a very important time in Keller's life.

Sullivan was hired in 1887 to teach Keller, who had been left blind and deaf after an illness at the age of 1 1/2. With her new teacher, Keller learned language from words spelled manually into her hand. Not quite 7, the girl went from an angry, frustrated child without a way to communicate to an eager scholar.

While "doll" was the first word spelled into her hand, Helen finally comprehended the meaning of language a few weeks later with the word "water," as famously depicted in the film "The Miracle Worker." Sullivan stayed at her side until her death in 1936, and Keller became a world-famous author and humanitarian. She died in 1968.

Jan Seymour-Ford, a research librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, which both Sullivan and Keller attended, said she was moved to see how deeply connected the women were, even in 1888.

"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," Seymour-Ford said.

Selsdon said the photograph is valuable because it shows many elements of Keller's childhood: that devotion, Sullivan's push to teach Helen outdoors and Helen's attachment to her baby dolls, one of which was given to her upon Sullivan's arrival as her teacher.

"It's a beautiful composition," she said. "It's not even the individual elements. It's the fact that it has all of the components."



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Amy
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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:04 am

Misti, that is an amAzing picture!! Interesting story too. What a FIND, after all these years! Thumbsup


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pamh36
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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sun Mar 09, 2008 10:29 am

What a wonderful photo!! Thanks so much for sharing it. They are an amazing pair.


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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sun Mar 09, 2008 1:28 pm

I saw that on yahoo....it is really neat. I remember reading a book about Helen Keller when I was younger. Me and my mom have talked, too, about how HARD it must be to teach a child that can't hear, or one that can't see, but how is seems impossible to us to teach on that is both blind and deaf.





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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sun Mar 09, 2008 1:53 pm

Wow, that's really neat!


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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sun Mar 09, 2008 5:32 pm

That's such a cool article. I love history, and have always found the story of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller extremely intriguing.


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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:09 pm

I must admit it seems very odd to me that a deaf and blind person could learn anything. I always felt amazed when reading about Helen Keller and her teacher Sullivan. Your finding is wonderful Misti...Thank you for posting it here. What a good teacher Miss Sullivan must be! :Gjob:

Vanesa.


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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:15 pm

:CoolSign: Misti!

I love their story. I first heard about them in school, I have seen several versions of the movies and own the one with Melissa Gilbert as Helen.

Farmer Girl wrote:
Me and my mom have talked, too, about how HARD it must be to teach a child that can't hear, or one that can't see, but how is seems impossible to us to teach on that is both blind and deaf.

Yeah, can you imagine how AMAZING that magic moment was when Helen realized she was communicating? So awesome... Applause


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Misti
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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:05 pm

Yep, I've seen the Anne Bancroft/Patty Duke version and the Patty Duke/Melissa Gilbert version. Loved them both. It gives me goosebumps, looking at that picture!



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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:06 pm

Very cool picture! Thank you for sharing.




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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:36 pm

Carol wrote:
I have seen several versions of the movies and own the one with Melissa Gilbert as Helen.

Check out this 'dinner' scene from the movie. Man... what else can you do to teach a blind/mute person how to eat properly? That was sure something!


(Posted by Rudolfo4711)

BTW, I love Melissa's hair in this movie. That is the longest I have had my hair as well. I think that is the perfect long hair length, anything longer I tend to want to trim it lol. My aunt would always grab it and tell me she wanted me to give her some and a couple of people who sat behind me in school would play with it or do small braids lol


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pamh36
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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:37 am

I have been wanting to see the version of the movie where Melissa Gilbert plays Helen. The only one I ever see played on tv is the version with Patty Duke, which is a very good version, but I haven't seen the Melissa Gilbert version since it originally aired. I was only 10 then!


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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:45 pm

I checked the search to see if we had a thread about Helen Keller and here we are.  This came up on my facebook thread just a few minutes ago.
click here----> Helen learns to speak


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bethandmanly
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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:08 pm

Fascinating.


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Lori
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PostSubject: Re: 1888 photo depicts Helen Keller & her teacher   Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:27 am

That was interesting.


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