Before Helen Keller: The Education of the Deaf, Mute and Blind Girl — Laura Dewey Bridgman of Hanover NH (1829-1889)

Daguerreotype of Laura Dewey Bridgman, Blind Poetess, taken about 1855, Southworth and Hawes; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Today through the film, The Miracle Worker, [the source material came from the H. Keller book “The Story of My Life”] many people are aware of the story of Helen Adams Keller who was born in 1880 and became deaf and blind as the result of an unknown illness. Helen’s famous teacher was Anne Mansfield Sullivan, a graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind.

Before Helen Keller was born, there was an amazing woman from New Hampshire, named Laura Dewey Bridgman who overcame similar challenges and became one of the “most celebrated women of her time.”  An article in The Scranton Republican of 14 May 1915 describes that “a doll dressed by Laura Bridgman, born forty years earlier, afforded the basis of the first teaching [of Helen Keller], helping the child to learn with amazing rapidity.” Continue reading