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Anne was born on April 14, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Though she was called Anne or Annie from the very beginning, her baptismal certificate identifies her as Johanna Mansfield Sullivan Anne Sullivan Macy Biography
Anne Sullivan, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anne Sullivan, Annie Sullivan, or Johanna Mansfield Sullivan Macy, (April 14, 1866–October 20, 1936) was a teacher best known as the tutor of Helen Keller.
Sullivan was born in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Her parents, Thomas Sullivan and Alice Clohessy, were poor Irish farmers who left Ireland in 1847 because of the Irish Potato Famine. Sullivan’s father was an alcoholic and sometimes abused her, but he also passed on to her Irish tradition and folklore. Her mother suffered from tuberculosis. Her mother died when she was eight, and when she was ten, her father deserted her and her siblings, leaving them at the Massachusetts State Infirmary in Tewksbury. Sullivan spent all her time with her younger, crippled brother (who, like his mother, suffered from tuberculosis) in hopes that they would never be separated; however, Jimmie soon died in the infirmary.
When Sullivan was three she began having trouble with her eyesight; at age five, she contracted the eye disease trachoma, a bacterial disease that affects the eye and can often lead to blindness, because of the scar tissue it creates. Sullivan underwent a long string of operations in attempts to fix her eyesight. Doctors in Tewksbury had made a few unsuccessful attempts to clean her eyelids, but these procedures did no good. Later, a Catholic priest and the chaplain of the nearest hospital, by the name of Father Barbara set out to correct her condition.
He arranged a procedure at the hospital for her eyes. The doctors attempted to numb her eyes with cocaine before the procedure. This operation failed to correct her vision and more attempts were made. Father Barbara took her to The Boston City Infirmary this time where she had two more operations. Even after this attempt her vision remained blurry and unchanged.
After this, Sullivan then returned to Tewksbury, against her will. After four years there, in 1880, she entered the Perkins School for the Blind where she underwent surgery and regained some of her sight. After regaining her eyesight and graduating as class valedictorian in 1886, she began teaching Helen Keller.
She taught Keller the names of things with the sign language alphabet signed into Keller's palm. In 1888, they went to the Perkins Institution together, then New York City's Wright-Humasen School, then the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, and finally to Radcliffe College. Keller graduated from Radcliffe in 1904 and after that, they moved together to Wrentham, Massachusetts, and lived on a benefactor's farm.
In 1905, Sullivan married a Harvard University professor, John A. Macy, who had helped Keller with her autobiography. Within a few years, their marriage began to disintegrate. By 1914 they separated, though they never officially divorced. Sullivan stayed with Keller at her home and joined her on tours. In 1935 she became completely blind. She died in Forest Hills, New York, on October 20, 1936.
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