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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB Preserves Helen Keller Legacy

Two-year, NHPRC-Funded Project to Conserve
Helen Keller Documents and Photographs Completed

New York, NY—The American Foundation for the Blind has completed archival categorization and preservation of its Helen Keller Archive, the largest collection of Keller's writings and photographs in the world. The work to preserve this invaluable body of materials, collected by and about Helen Keller, was made possible by funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

"AFB has cared for the Helen Keller materials since the 1960s when Helen selected AFB as the repository of her papers. We're so fortunate to be the caretakers of this rich legacy," said AFB president & CEO Carl R. Augusto. "NHPRC's generous grant and support for this project ensures that the Keller materials will continue to be available to the widest possible audience and to future generations."

Aside from refurbishing the physical space of the archive itself, the documents and photos have been cataloged in a specialized archival database (Electronic Archival Description), which is available to the researchers and the general public online and is fully accessible to people with disabilities. As a result of the NHPRC project, a more scholarly and comprehensive record of the Helen Keller collection is now available for inquiries by museums, libraries, researchers, and the general public, both in person and by remote access.

During the conservation process and re-categorization, more documents-relating to the work and activities of Keller later in life, in particular-have surfaced that could better inform the historical record. Several researchers have already taken advantage of the newly organized archives, a testament to Helen Keller's continued importance in the social history of the United States. AFB and New York University Press will co-publish a collection of selected writings by Helen Keller in June 2005, and AFB will seek other partnerships to make the materials more widely accessible in the future.

Born in 1880, the remarkable Helen Keller contracted an illness when she was less than two years old that left her unable to hear or see. She traveled the world; met the most celebrated personalities of her time; and became a leading figure who campaigned on behalf of civil rights, human dignity, women's suffrage, and world peace. A passionate and determined advocate for people with disabilities, Keller began to work with AFB in 1924 and served as a spokesperson and ambassador for the Foundation until her death in 1968.


Carrie Fernandez
AFB Communications

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