Helen Keller visits the University

0001One of the first projects we are working on is digitizing the early issues of the student newspaper.   The University Archives holds all the known issues of the paper, although the collection is incomplete as many issues that have been lost to time.  Originally titled the Normal Star (1911-1923), the paper’s name changed as the institution grew – it became the College Star (1923-1969) and then the University Star (1969-present).

0002While photographing the papers, Jeremy spotted an interesting article in the March 17, 1916 issue (Vol. 5 No. 4).  A short article describes a visit by Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, to the Southwest Texas State Normal School campus on Monday March 13th, 1916.  Following an introduction by her teacher, Helen Keller delivered an address on “Happiness.”  The tradition of bringing prominent guest lecturers to campus continues today – a century later – with events such as the LBJ Lecture Series and the Common Experience.

Helen Keller’s story is well known to most, particularly through the Oscar winning 1962 film, The Miracle Worker. Helen Keller, born in 1880, was left permanently deaf and blind at the age of nineteen months through illness. Her parents engaged Anne Sullivan Macy as her teacher, who successfully brought the outside world to her. She eventually learned to read Braille and lip reading, by covering the speaker’s mouth with her fingers. She published several books and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904. Keller and Sullivan traveled the country giving lectures in support of the American Foundation for the Blind.