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Helen Keller Birthplace, Tuscumbia

4.8
#2 of 9 in Things to do in Tuscumbia
History Museum · Hidden Gem · Historic Site
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At a plain, black well-pump in the small southern town of Tuscumbia, Alabama, one of the world's great miracles took place. It began one bright, spring day in 1887. Puffy white clouds floated overhead on a background of blue, while birds fluttered through oaks and maples and flowers burst forth from the fertile soil in an array of colors—all unheard and unseen by a pretty girl of seven.

Standing at the totally blind and deaf Helen Keller's side was a young woman, Anne Sullivan. Miss Sullivan was steadily pumping cool water into one of the girl's hands while repeatedly tapping out an alphabet code of five letters in the other—first slowly, then rapidly. The scene was repeated again and again as young Helen painstakingly struggled to break her world of silence.

Suddenly the signals crossed Helen's consciousness with a meaning. She knew that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the cool something flowing over her hand. Darkness began to melt from her mind like so much ice left out on the sunny March day. By nightfall, Helen had learned 30 words.

Helen Adams Keller was born a healthy child on June 27, 1880, to Captain Arthur H. and Kate Adams Keller of Tuscumbia. At the tender age of 19 months, she was stricken with a severe illness which left her blind and deaf.

At the age of six, the half-wild, deaf and blind girl was taken by her parents to see Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.Helen Keller with Dr. Alexander Graham Bell Because of her visit, Helen was united with her teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan on March 3, 1887. After Helen's miraculous break-through at the simple well-pump, she proved so gifted that she soon learned the fingertip alphabet and shortly afterward to write. By the end of August, in six short months, she knew 625 words.

By age 10, Helen had mastered Braille as well as the manual alphabet and even learned to use the typewriter. By the time she was 16, Helen could speak well enough to go to preparatory school and to college. In 1904 she was graduated "cum laude" from Radcliffe College. The teacher stayed with her through those years, interpreting lectures and class discussions to her.

Helen Keller, the little girl, became one of history's remarkable women. She dedicated her life to improving the conditions of blind and the deaf-blind around the world, lecturing in more than 25 countries on the five major continents. Wherever she appeared, she brought new courage to millions of blind people.

Her teacher, Anne Sullivan is remembered as "the Miracle Worker" for her lifetime dedication, patience and love to a half-wild southern child trapped in a world of darkness.
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Helen Keller Birthplace reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
163 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • Because of the play and movie “The Miracle Worker” most people know the story of Helen Keller. What a treat it was for me to visit Ivy Green, the birthplace of one of history’s most inspiring... 
    Because of the play and movie “The Miracle Worker” most people know the story of Helen Keller. What a treat it was for me to visit Ivy Green, the birthplace of one of history’s most inspiring...  more »
  • This place is truly amazing to visualize how remarkable Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan were. Many artifacts and kind knowledgeable tour guides. A must see! 
    This place is truly amazing to visualize how remarkable Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan were. Many artifacts and kind knowledgeable tour guides. A must see!  more »
  • Spend 1-2 hours exploring Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller. Very inspiring story and worth the visit. See "Ivy Green" reviews as well. 
    Spend 1-2 hours exploring Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller. Very inspiring story and worth the visit. See "Ivy Green" reviews as well.  more »
Google
  • I went with my wife and she love the history of the place. It was really cool to see and hear about Helen Keller. Lot of interesting facts. Plus my favorite thing on the property was the Moon tree. It was cool to see something that had gone to space and back to be planted at a historical place.
  • Very interesting and peaceful place. The people who work here are so nice and informative. They often will give a “tour” which is basically a talk introducing you to the site and what there is to see. Overall, a very nice stop and worth the visit if you’re in the area.
  • We were not able to take the tour due to it being closed, but we walked around and it was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful grounds. I loved all the old trees and landscape; very peaceful. What an honor to be able to be there.
  • We had visited before, but took our grandchild to visit. She is 8. We watched The Miracle Worker before we went and she really loved the site. We spent about 2-1/2 hours there. It was a warm sunny day and we all had a great time.
  • We have visited the Helen Keller birthplace from time to time during the presentstion of The Miracle Worker play that festures the early life of Helen and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. We go a few minutes early and visit the grounds and the buildings and displays on the property. The property is well maintained and cared for and the displays are neat. The play is always outstanding, they have been performing it for over 60 years and the characters are extraordinary! The stage area is very nice, they offer reserved seating as well as general admission and they had a full house. The ptesentation is so real life and the details give a little insight into the struggle thst the family, Helen and her teacher had to endure to develop her talents. There are funny moments but the scenes of the accompplishments will bring tears to your eyes. I recommend this if you enjoy viewing great presentations!

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