Perkins School for the Blind in 1912. (A.H. Folsom/Wikimedia Commons)
The Perkins School
When Sullivan began studying at the Perkins School for the Blind, she couldn’t even write her own name, frustrating some of her teachers, who were accustomed to instructing the privileged daughters of wealthy families. Others, however, recognized her intelligence and determination, and with their help, Anne thrived. She also received surgery that improved her vision enough that she could see the words in a book, so that helped, too. Within two years, she had caught up to everyone else in the school.
Sullivan soon befriended Laura Bridgman, an older resident of the school and its first blind and deaf pupil. Bridgman used the manual alphabet, which she taught to Sullivan, who spent endless hours reading the newspaper to Bridgman and discussing current events. Her work with Bridgman was actually what led her to the Keller family. Captain Keller had read about Bridgman and wrote to the director of Perkins, Michael Anagnos, requesting a teacher to work with his blind and deaf daughter in their home in Alabama. Naturally, Anagnos recommended his most recent valedictorian, and on March 3, 1887, Sullivan began teaching Helen Keller.