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Macy, Anne Sullivan (1866–1936)

Macy, Anne Sullivan (1866–1936)

American teacher and activist for the blind. Name variations: Anne or Annie Sullivan; Anne Mansfield Sullivan. Born Joanna Sullivan in Feeding Hill, MA, April 14 (some sources cite April 13), 1866; died in Forest Hills, NY, Oct 20, 1936; dau. of Thomas (Irish immigrant farmer) and Alice (Cloesy) Sullivan; m. John Macy (writer, Harvard professor, and Helen Keller's literary agent), May 2, 1905 (sep. 1914); no children.

Best known as the lifelong teacher and companion of Helen Keller, experienced failing eyesight at 8; spent 4 years in the state poorhouse in Tewksbury; entered Perkins School for the Blind in Boston (1880); while there, regained much of her sight after a series of operations; graduated at head of her class (1886); traveled to Tuscumbria, Alabama, to be governess to the unruly 7-year-old known as Helen Keller, who had been stricken blind and deaf in infancy; using a manual alphabet, spelled out words into Helen's hand; after many weeks, was successful in teaching her that the movements she felt in her hand were the names of objects; became as devoted to Keller as Keller was to her.

See also Nella Braddy, Anne Sullivan Macy (Doubleday, 1933); Helen Keller, Teacher (Doubleday, 1955); Joseph P. Lash, Helen and Teacher (Delacorte, 1980); and Women in World History.

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