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Helen Adams Keller

Charles Whitman1904

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Struck by an illness that left her both blind and deaf at nineteen months, Helen Keller spent her next five years locked in a solitary universe that those around her were incapable of penetrating. In early 1887, when a new teacher named Anne Sullivan came into her life, she began to connect to others, and by summer she was writing her first letter. Keller's progress did not stop there. By 1904, when she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, she had written a best-selling autobiography, and her rise out of silent darkness had made her a much-admired symbol of the human spirit's power to overcome adversity.

This photograph ran with an article by Keller published in Century magazine in 1905. In it, she explained how she used her sense of touch to experience the world.

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