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born 1880

Helen Keller overcame being deaf and blind to live ~ not just a full life ~ but a legendary one. In doing so, she forever changed attitudes about people with disabilities.

Born in 1880, Helen lost her sight and hearing due to an unknown illness as an infant. She couldn't communicate until age 6, when tutor Anne Sullivan taught her a finger alphabet. By age 7, she was writing words. By age 8, her educational achievements were making headlines.

In an era when many with her afflictions lived in asylums, Helen went on to become a college graduate, renowned author, activist and global ambassador for the underprivileged. Her timeless advice ~ “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.”

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Helen Keller (25)

"One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar."

American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf {AAPTSD} | july 1896

"If it is true that the violin is the most perfect of musical instruments, then Greek is the violin of human thought."

letter to Mrs. Laurence Hutton | february 1898

"I love the good that others do; for their activity is an assurance that whether I can help or not, the true and the good will stand sure."

Optimism: An Essay | 1903

"The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart."

The Story of My Life | 1903

"Next to a leisurely walk I enjoy a spin on my tandem bike. It is splendid to feel the wind blowing in my face and the springy motion of my iron steed. The rapid rush through the air gives me a delicious sense of strength and buoyance, and the exercise makes my pulse dance and my heart sing."

The Story of My Life | 1903

"Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle."

The Story of My Life | 1903

"Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content."

The Story of My Life | 1903

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it."

Optimism: An Essay, Part 1 | 1903

"I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble."

Optimism: An Essay | 1903

"The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."

Optimism: An Essay | 1903

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope."

Optimism: An Essay | 1903

"The degree of a nation's civilisation may be measured by the degree of enlightenment of its women."

My Future as I See It | 1904

"Every optimist moves along with progress and hastens it, while every pessimist would keep the world at a standstill."

The World I Live in | 1908

"I believe humility is a virtue, but I prefer not to use it unless it is absolutely necessary."

The Brooklyn Eagle | january 1916

"People often...have no idea how fair the flower is to the touch, nor do they appreciate its fragrance, which is the soul of the flower."

Letter to Miss Bose in India | december 1923

"If we do not like our work, and do not try to get happiness out of it, we are a menace to our profession as well as to ourselves."

know thyself | september 1930

"Truly, civilization is the result of long ages of patient, purposeful teaching."

address to the Educational Institute of Scotland | 1933

"A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships."

The Simplest Way to be Happy | february 1933

"The simplest way to be happy is to do good."

The Simplest Way to be Happy | february 1933

"I take happiness very seriously. It is a creed, a philosophy and an objective."

Happiness | may 1935

"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light."

Helen Keller's Journals (1936-1937) | january 1937

"International minds, like the Gulfstream, circulate vitality."

Helen Keller's Journals 1936-37 | 1937

"What do I consider a teacher should be? One who breathes life into knowledge so that it takes new form in progress and civilization."

National Education Association | 1938

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

Let Us Have Faith | november 1940

"I will not just live my life. I will not just spend my life. I will invest my life."

The Open Door | january 1957
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curated with care by Kathleen Murray {2014} + Alicia Williamson