Tactile Treasures in the Helen Keller Archive

July 9, 2019
P. O. Box 455 Talladega, Ala. April 28, 1954  Dear Miss Keller,  We have heard that you are coming to Alabama in May, and we wish to invite you to visit our school while you are in this state. We have heard of the work you are doing and would like to meet you and have you talk to us, if only for a few minutes.  Very truly yours, Cora Dell Booker. Eighth Grade School for Negro Blind
Invitation written in braille by 8th grader Cora Dell Booker inviting Keller to speak at her school, 1954
Circa 1821-1825, Louis Braille mastered the now-famous braille-dot code enabling blind and visually impaired individuals to read and enjoy the same wealth of knowledge as their sighted peers. As we’ve discovered during the Helen Keller Archive digitization project, humans always seem to find original ways to create methods with which to communicate. Fabulous examples of embossed items are scattered throughout the collection. Check these out: Letter written to Keller by Lucille Nurre in 1967…

Helen Keller on Independence Day, 1942

July 4, 2019
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER  SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 1942  MISS HELEN KELLER, whose brave fight to overcome the handicaps of the blind, deaf and dumb has become an American saga, examines a bust of herself by the world-famous sculptor, Jo Davidson. The photograph was taken in Davidson’s studio near Philadelphia.
Helen Keller examines a bust of herself by the world-famous sculptor, Jo Davidson. The photograph was taken in Davidson’s studio near Philadelphia.
During the 1940s, Helen Keller corresponded from her home in Westport, Connecticut with her good friend Clare Heineman in Chicago. One letter, written by Keller on Independence Day 1942 is particularly wonderful and classically Helen Keller – sweeping in its subject matter and passionate in its descriptions of how she physically experienced the world around her. The letter begins with gratitude for a 62nd birthday gift from Heineman. She writes that she will use the gift to purchase and plant…

How Is the Federal Government Working for People with Vision Loss?

July 2, 2019
in the foreground, Stacy Cervenka in the lawun outside the US Capitol building. The domed front of the capitol building is in the background.
Stacy Cervenka, Director Public Policy, AFB Public Policy and Research Institute
We are only halfway through the summer, but it has already been a busy one for AFB’s Public Policy team. In addition to bringing on board our new Director of Public Policy, Stacy Cervenka, we have been hard at work lending our expertise to the federal government on issues affecting people who are blind or visually impaired. Keep reading for an insight into the recent positions we have taken and comments submitted! Eliminating Subminimum Wages and Realizing Our Employment Potential The…

Is Your Campaign Accessible?

June 28, 2019
The ability for all Americans to participate in the voting process is vital to ensuring our collective voices across the U.S. are heard. If candidates don't offer accessible websites or platforms for people with disabilities to participate, they nix our right to engage in decisions that impact us. Remember that there are many different types of disabilities and many different types of assistive technologies to help these users. Here are some basic guidelines that will help ensure your campaign…

The Helen Keller Archive: 176,000 Digital Images and Counting!

June 25, 2019
Cake covered in flowers and a quotation celebrating Helen Keller's birthday
Birthday cake inscribed with "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." ~Helen Keller
Helen Keller was born 139 years ago today! Keller worked for AFB for 44 years. Within that time, and after her death in 1968, AFB amassed an enormous trove of materials by and about her. This extraordinary collection is a goldmine of social, political, and cultural history. It also presents a unique opportunity to teach and learn about Keller’s life, the times in which she lived, the history of disabilities, and the importance of universal accessibility. As a result of generous funding from…

Happy 20th Birthday to the Olmstead Decision!

June 20, 2019
Stacy Cervenka, Director Public Policy, American Foundation for the Blind
Stacy Cervenka, Director Public Policy, AFB
On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of people with disabilities constitutes discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Often hailed by the disability rights community as the most important civil rights decision for people with disabilities in US history, the Olmstead decision flung open the doors of institutions and gave previously segregated people the right to live in their communities. Subsequent court decisions…

Helen Keller and Disability History: Taking It to the Classroom

June 19, 2019
Photograph of students playing and learning in a kindergarten class at a school for students who are blind, Australia. 1948
Photograph of students playing and learning in a kindergarten class at a school for students who are blind, Australia. 1948
AFB’s mission to bring Helen Keller’s inspiring legacy to a global audience took a massive step forward with the Helen Keller Archive digitization project. Begun in 2015, over 176,000 digital images are now available at one’s fingertips. One of the project’s goals is to make the digital archive a stellar educational tool. Last summer, at a party celebrating the launch of the archive, our archivist introduced the digital archive to visually impaired 5th graders at the New York Institute for…
Author Helen Selsdon
Blog Topics Helen Keller

Emma Goldman on Helen Keller: "A Big, Brave American Woman"

June 14, 2019
Letter from Emma Goldman to Helen Keller from prison about the political climate and home and in Russia.
Letter from Emma Goldman to Helen Keller from prison about the political climate and home and in Russia.
On June 15, 1917, the US Congress passed the Espionage Act, and that same day anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were arrested and sent to prison. The following year, Goldman wrote to Helen Keller from prison. Her penciled letter begins as if she were writing to Helen Keller from her home: “Beloved Comrade I am terribly sorry I did not get the chance to see you again. I wanted so much to know you more intimately and have you know me.” Emma thanks Helen for her support during her…
Author AFB Staff
Blog Topics Helen Keller Archives

AFB Staff Find Special Treasures in the Helen Keller Archive

June 4, 2019
Last week, we asked you to join us in exploring the Helen Keller Archive and sharing the treasures you found during your online journey. Thanks to all of you who participated in the event! Of course, AFB staff was excited to dig into the digital archive and show a few of the fascinating artifacts their searches uncovered. We hope you enjoy these letters, gifts, and photographs from the fascinating life of Helen Keller. Elizabeth: I love this photo of Helen Keller sitting and reading braille…
Author AFB Staff
Blog Topics Helen Keller Archives

Today Is the Day to Be a Digital Archivist!

May 29, 2019
Helen Keller and Polly Thomson, seated outside on the grass with German Shepherd dog nearby, circa 1955
Helen Keller and Polly Thomson, seated outside on the grass with German Shepherd dog nearby, circa 1955
Please visit the Helen Keller Archive today between 12:00 and 12:30pm U.S. Eastern time. Our goal is to have a large number of visitors test the site’s ability to handle heavy traffic. So we need as many of you out there as possible to take a few minutes and enjoy the treasure trove that is the Helen Keller digital archive! Learn something new! Check out her correspondence with Mark Twain and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Or read a letter she wrote to her good friend Nella Braddy Henney, describing…