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Topics in Chronicling America - Helen Keller

While Mark Twain once asserted that the two most interesting characters of the nineteenth century were Helen Keller and Napoleon, Keller continued to grab the attention of Americans well into the twentieth century. Initially gaining prominence for overcoming the limitations of her deaf-blindness under the guidance of Annie Sullivan, Keller traveled the country advocating for socialist, suffragist, and disability rights. In 1920, Keller and others founded the American Civil Liberties Union, which continues to be a powerful activist force today. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

Picture of Helen Keller

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Important Dates:

  • 1888. Newspapers report on young Helen Keller’s success under her teacher and companion Annie Sullivan.
  • 1890. Helen Keller begins talking for the first time.
  • 1896-1900. Keller starts working for admission to Radcliffe College, Harvard’s female college and matriculates in 1900. Her classmates elect her Vice President.
  • 1903. Keller releases her autobiography The Story of My Life.
  • 1904. Keller graduates from Radcliffe.
  • 1912. Keller, now involved in Socialist politics, joins a public welfare board in Schenectady, New York. Keller also begins to give lectures on socialism around the country and continues for the next few years.
  • January 1920. Keller and others found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Helen Keller, deaf, blind
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles on a specific period.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  October 2, 2018
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