NEW YORK (March 24, 2015)—The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is thrilled to announce a grant of $275,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize the Helen Keller Archives. Bequeathed to AFB by Keller, the collection is 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.
"We are over the moon about this news,” said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. "These funds will help us fulfill a long-standing dream to digitally preserve Helen Keller's amazing collection and make it available to the world via the web."
Containing over 80,000 items, the collection includes Keller's most prized possessions—among them the Presidential Medal of Freedom; an honorary Oscar; the words and letters she wrote as a young child; correspondence from Mark Twain and Franklin D. Roosevelt; photographs with John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charlie Chaplin; and her extensive collection of manuscripts and writings. The Archive is a unique source of information about an iconic American woman and the times in which she lived.
Digitizing the collection will both preserve the physical collection for generations to come and provide immediate, online global access to both sighted and non-sighted audiences. The project will also create a standard for a fully accessible online archive that will create equal access to historical collections for those with and without visual and auditory disabilities.
"In the 50 years since NEH's founding, the Endowment has supported excellence in the humanities by funding far-reaching research, preservation projects and public programs," said NEH Chairman William Adams. "The grants announced today continue that tradition, making valuable humanities collections, exhibitions, documentaries, and educational resources available to communities across the country."
"Keller worked for AFB for over 40 years and changed perceptions of what it means to be blind and deaf-blind. There is an overwhelming desire for information about her and we look forward to sharing her incredible life story to a growing global audience as the result of this digitization project," added Augusto.
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The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB.