Macy, Anne Sullivan

Macy, Anne Sullivan,

1866–1936, American educator, friend and teacher of Helen KellerKeller, Helen Adams,
1880–1968, American author and lecturer, blind and deaf from an undiagnosed illness at the age of two, b. Tuscumbia, Ala. In 1887 she was put under the charge of Anne Sullivan (see Macy, Anne Sullivan), who was her teacher and companion until
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, b. Feeding Hills, Mass. Placed in Tewksbury almshouse (1876), she was later admitted (1880) to Perkins Institution for the Blind, since her eyes had been seriously weakened by a childhood infection. Although a series of operations partially restored her sight, she learned the manual alphabet in order to talk with Laura BridgmanBridgman, Laura,
1829–89, the first blind and deaf person to be successfully educated, b. Hanover, N.H. Under the guidance of Dr. S. G. Howe, of the Perkins School for the Blind, she learned to read and write and to sew, eventually becoming a sewing teacher at the school,
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, a fellow resident at Perkins. She was graduated in 1886 and one year later was chosen to teach Helen Keller. The two remained constant companions until Anne Sullivan's death. As Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan pioneered in techniques of education for the handicapped. She based her instruction on a system of touch teaching; rather than attempt to explain the properties of an object, she would allow her student to experience it directly. In 1905 she married John Macy, who later became a noted writer and literary critic. During the early 1920s, Anne Macy and her former student helped to publicize the new American Foundation for the Blind (founded 1921) and lobbied for its program of increased opportunities for the sightless.


See biographies by N. Braddy (1933) and L. A. Hickock (1961); H. A. Keller, Teacher (1955, rev. ed. 1966).

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