Helen Keller Archive Lost in World Trade Center Attack

by Staff

The literary archive of Helen Keller, the American writer and champion of the blind, was lost in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

The offices of Helen Keller Worldwide, which were located one block from the World Trade Center, were completely destroyed. John Palmer, president of HKW, says that among the items lost were his personal library of first editions of Keller's books, a collection of correspondence between Keller and the executive director of the London-based Royal National Institute for the Blind, and "a lifetime of photographs," including images of Keller and every living president who served during her lifetime from 1880 to 1968.

Palmer says some of the items in the archive may have been spared. Helen Keller Worldwide shared some of the material with the American Foundation for the Blind, also based in New York City, on West 31 Street-a safe distance from the disaster site.

Helen Keller Worldwide was established in 1915 and provides blindness-prevention programs in 30 countries. Its offices have moved to temporary locations in the New York area. In a letter to the HKW Board of Trustees written two days after the attacks, Palmer wrote: "Over the past days, I have seen and felt the spirit of Helen Keller among us-working the miracle of love and wholeness that is our life here in her agency. Of such is the hope of the world."

Keller's writings include The Story of My Life (1902), The World I Live In (1908), Out of the Dark (1913), Midstream: My Later Life (1930), Let Us Have Faith (1940), Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy (1955), and Open Door (1957).

Palmer asks anyone who owns any first editions of Keller's books or correspondence with the writer to contact him at jmphki@aol.com.