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Anne Sullivan Macy

Macy, Anne Sullivan, 1866–1936, American educator, friend and teacher of Helen Keller, 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 Bridgman, 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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