Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. In 1882, she fell ill and was struck blind, deaf and mute. Beginning in 1887, Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her make tremendous progress with her ability to communicate, and Keller went on to college, graduating in 1904. In 1920, Keller helped found the ACLU.
Helen Keller was the first of two daughters born to Arthur H. Keller and Katherine Adams Keller. Keller’s father had proudly served as an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The family was not particularly wealthy and earned income from their cotton plantation. Keller was born with her senses of sight and hearing, and started speaking when she was just 6 months old. She started walking at the age of 1.
Loss of Sight and Hearing:
In 1882, however, Keller contracted an illness—called “brain fever” by the family doctor—that produced a high body temperature. As Keller grew into childhood, she developed a limited method of communication with her companion, Martha Washington, the young daughter of the family cook.