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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Save the Helen Keller Archives

Make a donation now to help preserve Helen Keller's Archives!

What Are the Helen Keller Archives?

Helen Keller holding her Oscar The Helen Keller Archives, housed at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), are the largest collection of Helen Keller items in existence. Bequeathed to AFB by Keller, the Archives are a living testament to the amazing story of Keller's life, from her famous awakening as a child of 6 at the water pump, to her life as an author, activist, and global ambassador for people with disabilities.

Containing over 80,000 items, the collection includes Keller's most prized possessions—among them the Presidential Medal of Freedom; her honorary Academy Award; the words and letters she wrote as a young child; correspondence from Mark Twain and Franklin Delano Roosevelt; photographs with John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charlie Chaplin; and her extensive collection of manuscripts and writings.

A before and after shot of a silver-bound bible and a silver cup. The before shot shows that both objects are tarnished. In the after shot, both items are shiny.

Before and after cleaning: a silver-bound Bible given to Helen by the Jewish Institute for the Blind in 1952 and a silver cup.

These treasures are not just beautiful and inspiring but a rich source of information on the history of visual impairment, women's history, literary history, and American culture in the late nineteenth century and the first half of the 20th century. Keller's long life (1880 – 1968) enables us to see sweeping changes in American society through the lens of physical disability and the changing status of women in society. Helen Keller's life and can-do spirit continue to inspire students, scholars, researchers, historians, and people from around the world.

A before and after shot of moccasins showing how a dark stain was cleaned off the toe of one of the moccasins.

These moccasins, now restored from a worn and stained condition, were a gift to Helen from the Pawnee nation in 1960.

A stained banner with Helen Keller's name on it.

This banner, presented to Helen Keller in 1949 at the Government Lady Noyce School for the Deaf & Dumb in New Delhi, India, is just one of several items in the Helen Keller Archives needing extra care and restoration.

Preservation and Digitization Are Underway

Help us to keep it going!

Helen Keller spent 44 years of her life working for AFB and championing the rights of people with disabilities. Following her death in 1968, she left us her dearest possessions with the understanding that we would preserve and make them available to the public.

For almost 50 years, AFB has carefully cared for the collection and made it available to scholars, school children, and visitors. But the repeated retrieval and handling of the materials by staff and researchers is detrimental to the preservation and safety of items.

In 2008, some of our most vulnerable artifacts were cleaned by an artifact conservator and in 2011 we began the process of photographing our three-dimensional treasures as well as Helen Keller's certificates, diplomas and medals.

Digitization has provided accessibility without deterioration or risk. We now wish to do the same to the thousands of documents in the archive. Help us preserve Helen Keller's legacy—donate now and donate generously!

Donate Now Make a donation now to help preserve Helen Keller's Archives!

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Help Save the Helen Keller Archives

Support Helen's legacy with a gift to preserve her unique collection.