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  Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker

Letter from A. Edward Newton, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Temple University, to Anne Sullivan Macy, December 23, 1930

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Anne's Final Years (1930-1936) and Her Legacy
Academic Recognition

In October 1930, Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sought to honor both Anne and Helen with honorary degrees.

Anne's stubborn nature initially led her to refuse the honor, unlike Helen who graciously accepted the award. In the excerpt below, bibliophile and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Temple University, A. Edward Newton, tries to convince Anne to accept the award. An image of this letter appears on the left.

I regard Helen Keller as one of the most remarkable personalities now living, and I have always thought that what you have done with her was little, if any, less remarkable than what she was able to do for herself...she was inside seeking to look out, whereas you were outside looking in.

Anne would not be budged and Newton said he would forcibly confer the honor upon her. Anne said she would not attend the ceremony. The more strenuously she insisted on being omitted from the event, the more attention she drew.

At the ceremony in 1931, President Charles E. Beury introduced Newton, who was presenting the award to Helen. Newton's speech transitioned from praise for Helen to an impromptu address about Anne. This rallying cry was picked up by Governor Pinchot of Pennsylvania, who was attending as a recipient of an honorary degree. Pinchot demanded that the audience vote with their feet to give Anne an honorary degree. Everyone in the audience rose except for one woman, Anne, who had secretly entered the auditorium from a side entrance without the knowledge of Helen and Polly.


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Academic Recognition
Education in the Light of Present-Day Knowledge and Need
Friends in High Places
A Woman of Many Talents
Death of Anne Sullivan Macy
Foolish Remarks of a Foolish Woman
National Women's Hall of Fame


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