Anne Sullivan was born on April 14th, 1866. Sullivan was an American teacher, she is best known for being the instructor and lifelong companion of Helen Keller. At the age of five, Sullivan contracted trachoma, which is a highly contagious eye disease. This left her blind and without reading or writing skills. She received her education at the Perkins School for the Blind, when she graduated, she became a teacher to Helen Keller, she was 20.
The summer after Sullivan graduated, the principal of the Perkins Institution, Michael Anagnos, was contacted by Arthur Keller. He was in search of a teacher for his 7-year-old blind and deaf daughter, Helen. Anagnos recommended Sullivan for this position, she began her work on March 3, 1887 at the Kellers’ home in Alabama. When she arrived at the Keller household, she argued with Helen’s parents about the Civil War and over the fact that they used to own slaves. However, she quickly connected with Helen. This was the beginning of a 49-year relationship.
Sullivan’s curriculum involved a strict schedule with constant introduction of new vocabulary words. After Sullivan realised these did not suit Keller, she quickly changed her way of teaching. Instead, she began to teach her vocabulary based on her own interests, where she spelled each word out into Keller’s palm; within six months this method proved to be working when Keller had learned 575 words, some multiplication tables, as well as the Braille system. Sullivan strongly encouraged Helen’s parents to send her to the Perkins School where she could have an appropriate education. When they agreed, Sullivan took Keller to Boston in 1888 and stayed with her there. Sullivan continued to teach Keller, who soon became famous for her remarkable progress. With the help of Anagnos, Keller became a public symbol for the school, helping to increase its funding and donations and making it the most famous school for the blind in the country. However, an accusation of plagiarism against Keller greatly upset Sullivan: she left and never returned. Sullivan remained a close friend to Keller and continued to assist in her education, which ultimately included a degree from Radcliffe College.
Sullivan was seriously visually impaired for almost all of her life, by 1935 she was completely blind in both eyes. On October 15, 1936, she suffered a coronary thrombosis, fell into a coma, and died five days later on October 20,at age 70. Sullivan died with Keller holding her hand.