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A Q&A with Helen Selsdon, Helen Keller Archivist

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Celebrating Helen During Women's History Month

[Editor's note: In light of Women's History Month, this post concludes our series of interviews with Helen Keller experts on the AFB Blog. The following Q&A comes courtesy of Helen Selsdon, Archivist at the American Foundation for the Blind, including the Helen Keller Archives.]

Helen Selsdon, AFB Archivist, delivers a lecture to school children about the life and times of Helen Keller.

How has your close contact with so much of Helen's writings and, well, life, affected you?

Silly as it might be, whenever I’m in an upsetting or tricky situation I think of Helen and I realize how relatively unimportant my worries are. The thought of her has a very calming effect.

Reading the detailed correspondence from all over the globe surrounding Helen’s fight for equal rights for those with vision loss has given me a greater sense of the universality of people’s problems.

As Archivist of the Helen Keller Archives, you likely know more about her life and times than many. If Helen were alive today, what causes (aside from women's suffrage and disability rights) might she turn her attention towards?

Definitely literacy. I think she would be very sad to know that in spite of all the modern technology and extraordinary ways that information can be made accessible, so many children in America have such low literacy skills. Helen was a voracious reader. Reading can bring you worlds that you might never otherwise experience. Children today — especially children in the U.S. — are missing out on so much.

Additionally, Helen was very aware of the natural world around her. Indeed she wrote about the need to preserve America's beautiful natural places. She would definitely be an active environmentalist!

See also our interviews with Keller Johnson-Thompson and Doreen Rappaport.

Helen Keller
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