• Created Date
  • 1936
  • Description
  • Mrs. Anne Mansfield Sullivan Macy, who for nearly fifty years, was the kindly, patient and brilliant teacher of Miss Helen Keller, noted blind and deaf woman, died yesterday at their home, 71-11 Seminole Avenue, Forest Hills, Queens. She had been suffering from a heart ailment, which became acute early this Summer. Mrs. Macy was 70 years old. Mrs. Macy taught Miss Keller to read, speak, and know the world about her by use of her fingertips. Th... more
    Mrs. Anne Mansfield Sullivan Macy, who for nearly fifty years, was the kindly, patient and brilliant teacher of Miss Helen Keller, noted blind and deaf woman, died yesterday at their home, 71-11 Seminole Avenue, Forest Hills, Queens. She had been suffering from a heart ailment, which became acute early this Summer. Mrs. Macy was 70 years old. Mrs. Macy taught Miss Keller to read, speak, and know the world about her by use of her fingertips. Their lifelong devotion to each other was internationally famous and one was seldom seen or heard of without the other. Blindness, which had shadowed the child Anne Sullivan's life and which she had conquered before she met Miss Keller, had returned to darken her last days, and Miss Keller had to become the teacher and Mrs. Macy the pupil. Miss Keller yesterday paid this tribute: "Teacher is free at last from pain and blindness. I pray for strength to endure the silent dark until she smiles upon me again." Miss Polly Thomson, Miss Keller's secretary, said yesterday that Miss Keller was "bearing up magnificently" under her loss. During the last week Miss Keller was almost constantly at Mrs. Macy's side. Mrs. Macy was in a coma from Thursday until she died. On Wednesday she said: "Oh, Helen and Polly, my children, I pray God will unite us in His love." Mrs. Macy, so long the link to light for Miss Keller, lost the sight in her own right eye in 1929, due partly to a cataract, for which an operation was performed. In May, 1935, a cataract operation was done on her left eye, but thereafter she was able to distinguish only light and color with it. She could no longer read or guide her beloved Miss Keller, who despite her own handicaps, devoted herself to her friend. Pupil Guides Teacher in Braille As early as 1933 Miss Keller had commenced to teach Mrs. Macy to read Braille. But the Braille system had changed since Mrs. Macy taught it to Miss Keller and the teacher found it difficult. When it became known that year that Miss Keller, who had been led [part of article missing from image] out of the black silence in which she had existed since childhood by the ingenuity, perseverance and patience of her teacher, was in tern preparing her teacher to "see" with her fingers. Teaching Along New Paths Teacher and pupil remained for a time at the Perkins Institution. Then, in 1894, Helen was enrolled in the Wright-Humason Oral School for the Deaf in New York. Later Miss Sullivan took her to a school in Cambridge to prepare her for Radcliffe College and finally Helen passed triumphantly her entrance examinations, entered Radcliffe and in 1904 was graduated cum laude. Throughout the college course, Mrs. Macy was with Helen, spelling into her hands the words of the textbooks and the books of required reading. Miss Keller's career thereafter brought her more and more into the public eye. She became famous as an author, she raised huge sums for the blind, she traveled, she was everywhere acclaimed, and Mrs. Macy went everywhere with her. 'My own life," Mrs. Macy said once, 'is so interwoven with my my Helen's life that I can't separate myself from her.' Honored by Foreign Lands When Mrs. Macy's sixty-seventh birthday was celebrated Miss Keller proposed a toast: "Here's to my teacher, whose birthday was the Easter morning of my life." In 1931 Mrs. Macy received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Temple University and the Order of St. Sava from the King of Yugoslavia. In 1932 she became an honorary fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland. Mrs. Macy stayed in seclusion for several months in 1933 in Scotland while Miss Keller nursed her. Mrs. Macy's blindness grew even more pronounced and on her return from Scotland she said: "Helen is and always has been thoroughly well behaved in her blindness as well as her deafness, but I'm making a futile fight of it, like a bucking bronco. It's not the big things in life that one misses through the loss of sight, but such little things as being able to read. And I have no patience, like Helen, for the Braille system, because I can't read fast enough." Early this month the Roosevelt [part of article missing] Teacher On a day nearly fifty years ago, Helen Keller, the blind and deaf child, whom Anne Sullivan had undertaken to teach, had put into her hand (literally) the key to the universe. Mrs. Macy, whom Anne Sullivan came to be, tells of the day of the miracle when Helen, with a new light in her face, learned the word for "water": Suddenly turning around and pointing to me she asked my name. I spelled, "Teacher". To the end of that miracled companionship which ended yesterday morning, she was "Teacher". She literally "spelled the world into Helen's hand." The story of Mrs. Macy's own life - of a half-blind child, lonely and neglected in an almshouse, who was transplanted to the Perkins Institute for the Blind, and as a young woman was then transported fifteen hundred miles to teach a child deprived of both hearing and sight - is one of a triumph over a dark and sordid environment and terrible poverty. But it takes a Promethean significance in its relation of how she brought light to one in a double prison of darkness and silence and liberated her spirit. She deserves a place among the world's greatest teachers. Helen Keller said in a letter about what she "saw" from one of our tall buildings, which was as a "giant shaft groping toward beauty and spiritual vision," that until we have looked into darkness we can never know what a divine thing vision is. Mrs. Macy in giving vision to eyes that could never literally see performed a divine service in which others than her blind pupil shared. The lamp which, as the emblem of Prometheus, was borne through the "divine gloom" of Shelley's line should be here as well who carried the torch that lighted the way of this child into glorious womanhood - the torch of hope across 'the night of life' and bore it most triumphantly - and will even beyond the grave carry it to the far goal of Time. For what this teacher has done for one prisoned soul cannot be forgotten, and may now be repeated for others. Mrs. Anne Mansfield Sullivan Macy, who for nearly fifty years, was the kindly, patient and brilliant teacher of Miss Helen Keller, noted blind and deaf woman, died yesterday at their home, 71-11 Seminole Avenue, Forest Hills, Queens. She had been suffering from a heart ailment, which became acute early this Summer. Mrs. Macy was 70 years old. Mrs. Macy taught Miss Keller to read, speak, and know the world about her by use of her fingertips. Their lifelong devotion to each other was internationally famous and one was seldom seen or heard of without the other. Blindness, which had shadowed the child Anne Sullivan's life and which she had conquered before she met Miss Keller, had returned to darken her last days, and Miss Keller had to become the teacher and Mrs. Macy the pupil. Miss Keller yesterday paid this tribute: "Teacher is free at last from pain and blindness. I pray for strength to endure the silent dark until she smiles upon me again." Miss Polly Thomson, Miss Keller's secretary, said yesterday that Miss Keller was "bearing up magnificently" under her loss. During the last week Miss Keller was almost constantly at Mrs. Macy's side. Mrs. Macy was in a coma from Thursday until she died. On Wednesday she said: "Oh, Helen and Polly, my children, I pray God will unite us in His love." Mrs. Macy, so long the link to light for Miss Keller, lost the sight in her own right eye in 1929, due partly to a cataract, for which an operation was performed. In May, 1935, a cataract operation was done on her left eye, but thereafter she was able to distinguish only light and color with it. She could no longer read or guide her beloved Miss Keller, who despite her own handicaps, devoted herself to her friend. Pupil Guides Teacher in Braille As early as 1933 Miss Keller had commenced to teach Mrs. Macy to read Braille. But the Braille system had changed since Mrs. Macy taught it to Miss Keller and the teacher found it difficult. When it became known that year that Miss Keller, who had been led [part of article missing from image] out of the black silence in which she had existed since childhood by the ingenuity, perseverance and patience of her teacher, was in tern preparing her teacher to "see" with her fingers. Teaching Along New Paths Teacher and pupil remained for a time at the Perkins Institution. Then, in 1894, Helen was enrolled in the Wright-Humason Oral School for the Deaf in New York. Later Miss Sullivan took her to a school in Cambridge to prepare her for Radcliffe College and finally Helen passed triumphantly her entrance examinations, entered Radcliffe and in 1904 was graduated cum laude. Throughout the college course, Mrs. Macy was with Helen, spelling into her hands the words of the textbooks and the books of required reading. Miss Keller's career thereafter brought her more and more into the public eye. She became famous as an author, she raised huge sums for the blind, she traveled, she was everywhere acclaimed, and Mrs. Macy went everywhere with her. 'My own life," Mrs. Macy said once, 'is so interwoven with my my Helen's life that I can't separate myself from her.' Honored by Foreign Lands When Mrs. Macy's sixty-seventh birthday was celebrated Miss Keller proposed a toast: "Here's to my teacher, whose birthday was the Easter morning of my life." In 1931 Mrs. Macy received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Temple University and the Order of St. Sava from the King of Yugoslavia. In 1932 she became an honorary fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland. Mrs. Macy stayed in seclusion for several months in 1933 in Scotland while Miss Keller nursed her. Mrs. Macy's blindness grew even more pronounced and on her return from Scotland she said: "Helen is and always has been thoroughly well behaved in her blindness as well as her deafness, but I'm making a futile fight of it, like a bucking bronco. It's not the big things in life that one misses through the loss of sight, but such little things as being able to read. And I have no patience, like Helen, for the Braille system, because I can't read fast enough." Early this month the Roosevelt [part of article missing] Teacher On a day nearly fifty years ago, Helen Keller, the blind and deaf child, whom Anne Sullivan had undertaken to teach, had put into her hand (literally) the key to the universe. Mrs. Macy, whom Anne Sullivan came to be, tells of the day of the miracle when Helen, with a new light in her face, learned the word for "water": Suddenly turning around and pointing to me she asked my name. I spelled, "Teacher". To the end of that miracled companionship which ended yesterday morning, she was "Teacher". She literally "spelled the world into Helen's hand." The story of Mrs. Macy's own life - of a half-blind child, lonely and neglected in an almshouse, who was transplanted to the Perkins Institute for the Blind, and as a young woman was then transported fifteen hundred miles to teach a child deprived of both hearing and sight - is one of a triumph over a dark and sordid environment and terrible poverty. But it takes a Promethean significance in its relation of how she brought light to one in a double prison of darkness and silence and liberated her spirit. She deserves a place among the world's greatest teachers. Helen Keller said in a letter about what she "saw" from one of our tall buildings, which was as a "giant shaft groping toward beauty and spiritual vision," that until we have looked into darkness we can never know what a divine thing vision is. Mrs. Macy in giving vision to eyes that could never literally see performed a divine service in which others than her blind pupil shared. The lamp which, as the emblem of Prometheus, was borne through the "divine gloom" of Shelley's line should be here as well who carried the torch that lighted the way of this child into glorious womanhood - the torch of hope across 'the night of life' and bore it most triumphantly - and will even beyond the grave carry it to the far goal of Time. For what this teacher has done for one prisoned soul cannot be forgotten, and may now be repeated for others. Newspaper clipping from the New York Times on October 21, 1936. Headline: Mrs. Macy is Dead; Aided Miss Keller- Teacher and Famous Blind and Deaf Pupil Associated Since They Met in 1887- She Kept in Background- In Recent Years Her Sight Failed and Younger Woman Heroically Looked After Her. Article has one photograph of Mrs. Macy. New York Times. less
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  • Samuel P. Hayes Research Library, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA. Contact host institution for more information.