Hellen Keller - Radcliffe Graduate

Hellen Keller a Radcliffe Graduate

Helen Keller became the first non-seeing, non-hearing person to enroll in an institution for higher learning—and then to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree.   

This photo depicts Helen as a Radcliffe College graduate. She graduated from Radcliffe—with honors—on June 28, 1904.

Studying at Radcliffe was even harder for Helen than one might imagine. Beyond her inability to see and hear, like other students, Keller had little interaction with her professors and Radcliffe administrators.

Helen's great-grandniece, Keller Johnson-Thompson, tells us that both Helen and Annie Sullivan (the teacher who had initially taught Helen sign-language) were relatively isolated during the Radcliffe years:

It is sad to say, that only one of Helen Keller's professors, Mr. William Allan Neilson, who later became President of Smith College, mastered the manual alphabet (finger spelling the letters into ones hand) so that he could communicate directly with Helen. As a matter of fact, most of the faculty and Administration ignored both Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.

Anne Sullivan was allowed to attend class with Helen, spelling into Helen's hand what was being said, but she was not allowed to be with Helen as she took tests. Helen Keller received no special treatment.

Only one of Helen Keller's classmates knew the manual alphabet. Another young girl had learned Braille, but Helen never heard from either of them after graduation. The other students tried to be friendly when they saw Helen ... but because they could not communicate directly with her, it was very awkward for Helen as well as her classmates.

During these years, Helen escaped by diving into her books. With her fingers, she was able to read about the wonders of the universe, and the history of man. Her favorite books during this time were those on philosophy because philosophy taught Helen that she could experience the world, even without sight and sound.

Click on the image for a better view.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jun 06, 2020

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Perkins Museum.


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Hellen Keller - Radcliffe Graduate" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jun 06, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips