“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” - Helen Keller
Triumphing over disabilities and inspiring millions, Helen Keller continues to be one of the most inspiring figures in the world. Using her disabilities as an advantage, Keller became a role model for people who also shared the same life with her. Keller was left permanently blind and deaf due to a fever when she was a just a child. Keller rose above her disabilities by learning to read and write and she graduated magna cum laude from Radcliffe College.
Keller helped the blind and the deaf as she traveled around the world to give lectures. She also wrote books and articles despite the loss of her sight and hearing. In this photo shot in 1953 during a visit to the White House, Keller is seen guiding her hand over then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower to see the president in the flesh. The photograph was shot by photographer Charles Corte and included Keller’s long-time companion and translator Polly Thomson who signaled the president’s comments by drawing sign language on her palm.
Our intention with the Influential Photographs columns is not to glorify or demean the subject of the photo. Our intention with this column is to highlight the most influential analogue photographs of history. The photographs we feature are considered icons, for their composition, subject matter, or avant-garde artistic value.