Helen Adams Keller was born at Tuscumbia, Alabama on this day in 1880. She was a bright and attractive child until she fell sick at 19 months with "brain fever," now believed to have been meningitis. She wasn't expected to live, after recovering she had lost all vision and hearing. Over the next few years her temper made her difficult to live with. With the full-time help of Anne Sullivan, Helen learned to communicate several different ways, and as her world opened up again her manners improved. By age eight she was a celebrity, when she graduated from Radcliffe in 1904 she was the first deaf and blind person to acquire a bachelors degree. She spent the rest of her life raising funds and consciousness for the improvement of treatment of the blind.
Below are some of her more memorable quotes:
Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.
I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.
It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal.
No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows.
All from Helen Keller, 1880 – 1968