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Profile of the Day: Anne Sullivan

On this day in 1866, American educator Anne Sullivan was born. Best remembered as the teacher and lifelong companion of Helen Keller, Sullivan taught Keller, who was blind and deaf, to communicate and read Braille.

Image: Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan / Library of Congress

Sullivan was born on April 14, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts to Thomas Sullivan and Alice Cloesy. Her parents had emigrated to the United States from Ireland during the Great Famine. As a child, she contracted trachoma which over time made her nearly blind. She became a student at the Perkins School for the Blind where she graduated as valedictorian of her class.

Upon her graduation at the age of 20, Sullivan was offered a job with the Kellers to teach their blind and deaf daughter, Helen. Unable to communicate, Helen was prone to violent temper tantrums. As Helen’s teacher, Sullivan taught the young girl how to finally communicate with the outside world. She would spend the next 49 years of her life as Helen’s teacher, friend, and lifelong companion.

Sullivan died on October 20, 1936 at the age of 70.

View Anne Sullivan’s Geni Profile

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