Library Blog

Helen Keller Day

Helen Keller Day

Sunday, June 27th is Helen Keller Day. On her birthday, we celebrate the life and achievements of this remarkable activist and advocate.

Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama. At the young age of nineteen months, she became very sick, most likely from what we know today was either meningitis or scarlet fever, which then caused her to become blind and deaf. With limited language, she became unruly, what some would call “wild.” Her parents were told to institutionalize her.  

It wasn’t until Anne Sullivan, a visually-impaired person herself and a recent graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind, came to Helen and brought with her the gift of language. Helen and Anne remained side by side for 49 years. Their bond can only be described as incredible.  

Anne helped Helen become the first Deaf person to graduate from college in 1904, when she attended Radcliffe College. Anne meticulously interpreted the lectures and texts. Later, Anne and her husband helped Helen write her first book The Story of My Life in 1905. Helen became a strong advocate for those with disabilities. Through her drive she met many famous people; one such person was Mark Twain.  

Helen went on to become very involved in political issues. In 1915, she co-founded Helen Keller International, with the mission to combat blindness and malnutrition. She testified before Congress to try and improve the lives of those with disabilities, but also to improve welfare of blind individuals. In 1920, she helped establish the American Civil Liberties Union, or the ACLU. In 1946, she was appointed as counselor of international relations for the American Foundation of Overseas Blind. She traveled to 35 different countries on five continents between 1946-1957.  

Helen Keller passed away in her sleep on June 1, 1968, just a few weeks shy of turning 88. Previously, she had suffered several strokes. Throughout her life, she proved she was a determined, hardworking, and passionate person. All these traits led to her being recognized and awarded several awards as well as honorary doctoral degrees. One such accomplishment is the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936. A few other awards are the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 and election to the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1965. To think, at the age of six and being this wild, unruly child, she would grow and become a world-renowned activist for the furtherance of others. 

Check out this Bibliocommons book list for titles to learn more about Helen Keller.  

Jenni

Jenni Hemphill is the current Assistant Supervisor for the Boardman, Springfield, and Greenford locations. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education (K-12) in 2001 and a Master’s of Library and Information Science plus K-12 degree in 2015, both from Kent State University. She taught at the Ohio School for the Deaf for ten years, where she taught all ages, and has been a contract interpreter for the deaf locally.

She started at PLYMC back in 2014 and loves helping patrons, of any age, find their next best read, and going out into the community to schools for off-site programming. She currently runs the ASL Club Program for PLYMC.

Her and her husband have two children, who attend Springfield Local Schools. She loves to read, spend time with family, and trying new things.