Anne Sullivan Macy - Ms. Culliton's Pages

Anne Sullivan Macy - Ms. Culliton's Pages

ANNIE SULLIVANS EARLY YEARS Anne Sullivan was born on April 14, 1866, in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts.

Her parents immigrated to the United States from Ireland during the Great Famine of the 1840s. The couple had five children, but two died in their infancy. Sullivan and her two surviving siblings

grew up in impoverished conditions, and struggled with health problems. At the age of five, Anne contracted an eye disease called trachoma, which severely damaged her sight. Her mother, Alice, suffered from tuberculosis and had difficulty getting around after a serious fall. She died when Anne was eight years old.

And Annie can still see her mothers long thin fingers plucking the leaves from a geranium that bloomed in the window. There was not much that the mother could do. Doctors were expensive

Trachoma Stages of Trachoma This memorial is another tribute to Anne Sullivans work with Helen Keller. The inscription

reads, Anne SullivanTeacher of Helen Keller. Heroic friend of the deaf and blind. Native of Feeding Hills.

Even at an early age, Sullivan had a strongwilled personality. She sometimes clashed with her father, Thomas, who was left to raise Sullivan and her siblings after their mother's death. Thomaswho was often abusiveeventually abandoned the family. Anne and her infirm younger brother, Jimmie, were sent to live at the Tewksbury Almshouse, a home for the poor. Some reports say that Sullivan also had a sister

who was sent to live with relatives. Tewskbury Almshouse c. 1890 Intake Form for Annie and Jimmy, 1876 Upon their arrival at Tewksbury, Anne successfully protested against

attempts to separate her from her brother. As a result, both siblings were sent to the women's ward, where inmates included women who were physically and mentally ill. Anne remembered the following: Very much of what I remember about Tewksbury is indecent, cruel, melancholy, gruesome in the light of grown-up experience; but nothing corresponding with my present understanding of these ideas entered my child mind. Everything

interested me. I was not shocked, pained, grieved or troubled by what happened. Such things happened. People behaved like thatthat was all that there was to it. It was all the life I knew. Things impressed themselves upon me because I had a receptive mind. Curiosity kept me alert and keen to know everything.

Tewksbury Almshouse was dirty, rundown, and overcrowded. Sullivan's brother Jimmie died just months after they arrived there, leaving Anne alone. Then I crept to the side of the bed and touched him! Under the sheet I felt the little cold body, and something in me broke. Before they could

stop me, I jumped up and put my arms around him and kissed and kissed and kissed his face the dearest thing in the world the only thing I had ever loved. I longed desperately to die. I believe very few children have ever been so completely left alone as I was

While at Tewksbury, Sullivan learned about schools for the blind and became determined to get an education as a means to escape poverty. She got her chance when members from a special commission visited the home. After following the group around all day, she worked up the nerve to talk to them about sending her to a special school.

Frank B. Sanborn is the name, the women told Annie. If you could ever see him, you might get out. But how? Not through the authorities. -- From Nella Braddys Anne Sullivan Macy

She must wait until she could see Mr. Sanborn himself. Sometimes the god descended upon them in person. The condition of her eyes made this difficult. Her friends she distinguished mainly by their voices and by their general outlines. One stranger, unless she knew his voice, was much like another.

-- From Nella Braddys Anne Sullivan Macy But the day came when word flew around the ward that Mr. Sanborn had come. He was with a group of other men. She followed them about from ward to wardIn a moment her last chance of ever leaving Tewksbury would be lost. She hurled herself into their midst without

knowing which was he, crying, Mr. Sanborn, Mr. Sanborn, I want to go to school! What is the matter with you? someone asked I cant see very well. How long have you been here? She could not tell him that. Nor can she tell how long it was after this before one of the women came to her and told her that she was

going away to school. -- From Nella Braddys Anne Sullivan Macy Tewskbury Almshouse Ward Old Administration Building, Constructed in 1894 No one kissed her good-byeher friends

crowded around her with advice. Be a good girl and mind your teachers. Dont tell anyone you came from the poorhouse. Keep your head up, you re as good as any of them. Write me when you learn how. Send me some tobacco if you can get hold of it. Dont let anyone fool you into getting married. He wont mean what he says. The last words that she heard were

from Tim, the driver: Dont ever come back to this place. Do you hear? Forget this and you will be all right. -- From Nella Braddys Anne Sullivan Macy Sullivan left Tewksbury to attend the

Perkins School for the Blind in 1880, and underwent surgery to help improve her limited vision. Still, Sullivan faced great challenges while at Perkins. She had never been to school before and lacked social graces, which put her at odds with her peers

Humiliated by her own ignorance, Sullivan had a quick temper and liked to challenge the rules, which got her in trouble with her teachers. She was, however, tremendously bright, and she soon advanced academically.

Sullivan did eventually settle down at the school, but she never felt like she fit in there. She did develop close friendships with some of her teachers, including the school's director Michael Anagnos. Chosen as the valedictorian of her class, Sullivan delivered a speech at her June 1886 graduation. She told her fellow students that "duty bids us go forth

into active life. Let us go cheerfully, hopefully, and earnestly, and set ourselves to find our especial part. " Sullivan befriended Laura Bridgman, another remarkable Perkins resident. Fifty years earlier, Bridgman had been the first

person who was deafblind to learn language. Sullivan learned the manual alphabet from. Not much has been written about their friendship, but it's tempting to think they shared a special affinity because neither completely fit in with the larger Perkins community.

Anagnos helped Sullivan find a job after graduation. The Keller family had written him looking for a governess for their daughter Helen, who was blind and deaf. In March 1887, Sullivan traveled to Tuscumbia, Alabama, to work for the Keller family.

Back at Tewksbury1898 Mens Dining Hall C. 1903 Memorial to Annie and Helen in Tewksbury Today From a 1959 TIME Magazine cover

story about The Miracle Worker: So successful are the two actresses that Author Gibson is convinced they transcend the bounds of mere acting. I've always felt the curtain call was haunted, says Gibson. A high

percentage of the applause is for the people who really lived. In a collection of thoughts that Anne wrote later in life, entitled Foolish Remarks of a Foolish Woman, she reflected on her experiences at Tewksbury: Unexpected good has filled the chinks of frustration in my life. But at times melancholy without reason grips

me as in a vise. A word, an odd inflection, the way somebody crosses the street, brings all the past before me with such amazing clearness and completeness, my heart stops beating for a moment. Then everything around me seems as it was so many years ago. Even the ugly frame-buildings are revived. Again I see the unsightly folk who hobbled, cursed, fed and snored like animals I doubt if life, or eternity for that matter, is long enough to erase the

errors and ugly blots scored upon my brain by those dismal years.

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