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Helen Keller (with Polly Thomson)

Helen Keller (with Polly Thomson)
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Yousuf Karsh, 23 Dec 1908 - 13 Jul 2002
Polly Thomson, 1885 - 1960
Helen Adams Keller, 27 Jun 1880 - 1 Jun 1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 25.5 × 31.6 cm (10 1/16 × 12 7/16")
Sheet: 35.4 × 42.8 cm (13 15/16 × 16 7/8")
Mount: 40.7 × 48.3 cm (16 × 19")
Mat (Karsh exhibit): 55.9 × 71.1 cm (22 × 28")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Yousuf Karsh
Object number
Exhibition Label
During a lifetime of service, Helen Keller demonstrated to the world that disabilities were not insurmountable barriers to achievement. After illness claimed her sight and hearing in early childhood, Keller overcame those challenges with the aid of Anne Sullivan, her dedicated teacher and companion. She mastered manual sign language and braille and also developed her ability to speak. When Keller graduated with honors from Radcliffe College in 1904, she had already published a best-seller—The Story of My Life (1902). Committed to the principles of equality and opportunity, Keller was active in reform movements and was an early supporter of the NAACP. Her most rewarding work, however, was advocating for those with disabilities. In 1924 she became the official spokesperson for the American Foundation for the Blind and later lobbied successfully to include a clause in the Social Security Act of 1935 that made the blind eligible for grant assistance.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
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