January 29, 1914: Helen Keller lectures at Duluth’s Lyceum Theatre

On this day in Duluth in 1914, Helen Keller delivered a lecture at Duluth’s Lyceum Theatre. Keller was 34 years old at the time and accompanied by Anne Macy—the former Anne Sullivan—who famously taught Keller how to communicate with words despite being struck deaf and blind at 19 months, likely because of scarlet fever or meningitis. Macy took the stage first, describing Keller’s childhood and the methods she used to bring Keller out of her darkness. Keller began her speech with what the News Tribune described as a statement of brotherhood and interdependence: “We live by each other. It was through the efforts of others that I found myself, found friends, found my father and mother, found my soul. I, who was blind, have eyes; I, who was deaf, have hearing; I, who was dumb, can speak. Everything I have learned comes through the hands. Is it any wonder that I love the hands of the world, the powerful hands that achieve and conquer and labor. It is through the labor of the world that we find contentment. The starless night of blindness has its wonders. Love rends asunder the bonds of the flesh and brings glimpses of the beautiful. Look around you, listen, and you will marvel at the wonders that your eyes and ears will see.” After her talk, she answered audience questions, explaining that she was indeed a suffragist and a socialist and that her chief enjoyment was talking.

Helen Keller and a friend. (Image: Public Domain)