Historical information

In 1948 during her Australian tour Helen Keller visited the west suburban SUNSHINE GIRLS TECHNICAL SCHOOL, to express her thanks for a letter written by the students in support of her work with deaf and blind people. She and her travelling companions presented the school with their signatures.

Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 and due to an illness at the age of 20 months lost both her sight and hearing. Helen was taught to communicate by Anne Sullivan who wrote words into her hand, and she also learned to speak by touching the throat and lips of people as they spoke. In June 28, 1904 Helen Keller graduated from Radcliffe College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, being the first deaf and blind person to do so. In October 1914 Polly Thomson joined up with Helen and Anne. Helen published an account of her religious beliefs and an autobiography, and in 1930 the three women travelled to Scotland, England and Ireland. In 1931 they participated in the first World Council for the Blind. After Anne Sullivan Macy died in 1936 Helen and Polly continued to travel to several countries. In 1943 Helen visited blind, deaf, and disabled soldiers in a USA military hospital, which she described as "the crowning experience of my life". In 1946 Helen and Polly made their first world tour for the American Foundation for the Overseas Blind and over the next 11 years visited 35 countries. In 1955 Helen became the first woman to be honoured with an honorary degree from Harvard University. In 1960 Polly Thomson died, and in 1961 Helen suffered her first stroke and so retired from public life. In 1964 President Johnson conferred the Presidential Medal of Freedom however she was unable to attend the ceremony. On June 1, 1968 Helen died in her sleep, and her ashes have been interred with those of Anne and Polly at the National Cathedral. Over 1200 mourners attended the funeral.


It is significant that Helen Keller actually took the time and effort to visit the Sunshine Girls Technical School to thank the students for their supporting letter. Helen Keller's many achievements show that a severely handicapped deaf and blind person can make significant contributions to society, if they apply themselves and receive assistance from dedicated friends.

Physical description

Brown stained wood frame with glass face enclosing a beige paper with three signatures and a typed white paper section describing reason for the signatures.

Inscriptions & markings

Helen Keller, Polly Thomson, Marion Fatuson, 11.5.48