Thursday, March 6, 2008

Uncovered a rare photo of a young Helen Keller

Nearly 40 years after her death, the rare portrait of Helen Keller with her teacher, Anne Sullivan surfaces in Boston.

(From the article) Thaxter P. Spencer Collection, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, New England Historic Genealogical Society-Boston/AP

This 1888 photo shows Helen Keller when she was 8 years old, left, holding hands with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, during a summer vacation to Brewster, Mass., on Cape Cod. A staff member at the society discovered the photograph in a large photography collection recently donated to the society.

This photo is so awesome. It never stops me from finding it so amazing about Helen Keller. I used to teach children ASL and the history of Helen Keller in an active and fun way . I got a video of her as a real person from Lake Arbor Library and showed my class. ~Deb Ann

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 and tucked inside a family album.
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, though, the photograph was hidden in an album that belonged to the family of Thaxter Spencer, an 87-year-old man in Waltham.


Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Deb Ann! Glad I shared with you so that you can post the rare photo of Helen Keller on your blog for everyone to see it. ;) I think it is a really lovely portrait of the devotion, love, patience and served that lasted all of Anne's life as a mentor, she's gazing so intently at Helen. It really inspired me. You can add my comment in your blog. ;)

And the black cat that you added on your blog, yes, I liked it!!! You know I have 3 black cats, of course! :)


RLM said...

Deb Ann,

Many thanks for posting the pic of younger Helen Keller which showed her real beauty.

My deaf mother (deceased) mother, Alice Smith, did meet the older Helen Keller at the Maryland School for the Deaf. She told me how real ugly Helen Keller was on her visit.

My deaf mother also met Babe Ruth at the MSD and got the wooden pencil in shape of baseball bat. Unforunately, she lost this pencil.

Robert L. Mason (RLM)

Deaf Pixie said...

Helen is really so beautiful girl and it is very rare picture were found. It is really impact me and beautiful.

Darn it I missed NBC was talked about Helen yesterday.

Rini said...

I am amazed, I am really taken in with the photo. It's a pretty photo of them. It is a wonderful photo and if I didn't know any better, I would have thought a group of people did a photo shoot a week ago. The depth is so nice to see. It brings it to life.

kw said...

I love this photo, the way it captures the warmth in their relationship we know existed from the Helen Keller biographies. Thanks for sharing.

Deaf Pixie said...


I have heard about Helen Keller have a some problem with deal with ugly situation. Not quietly sure if it is accurate honesty information?

Please email me at

Deaf Pixie