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What Do You Want to Know About Helen?

Studio photo of Helen Keller as a teenager. She wears a long white dress with a full skirt and puffed sleeves. White lace decorates the high neck, the sleeves, and the edge of the skirt.

I have received some very interesting research questions about Helen Keller during my first year as Archivist in the AFB Helen Keller Archive. Recently, researchers from France were in search of the original speech that Helen Keller wrote in French, and presented at Louis Braille’s Paris re-internment in 1952. I should also mention that our entire reference interaction was in French, which I do not speak at all. Thanks to some online translation tools, I was able to find the speech digitized in our Archive, share it with the researchers, and get a precise French language transcription for the Archive web page in return. Another researcher was looking for a long-lost copy of Joseph Lash’s book Helen and Teacher with original, hand-written footnotes. I discovered it here in the Archive, well used, in the very last box on the shelf. Some University scholars were interested in a “Beer Pot” that Helen received as a gift during her 1951 work in South Africa. That, unfortunately, is still a mystery – although we do hold two Zulu shields that Helen received there.

Reference questions are, quite honestly, a very fun part of my job. I get to explore the Archive, learn new things, meet new people, and get more experience doing my job. But, as I’m sure that Helen Keller would agree, this Archive is for everyone. You don’t have to be an academic or an author to use the Archive. You just have to be interested. So if there is anything that you have always wondered about Helen Keller or the Archive, please contact me at It might make for a wonderful new blog post or just a short response. The Archive is here for you, so please feel free to use it!



Justin Gardner is the Archivist of the AFB Helen Keller Archive.

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