"Miracle Worker" and the Transcendentalist: Annie Sullivan, Franklin Sanborn, and the Education of Helen Keller

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Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, remain two of the best-known American women. But few people know how Sullivan came to her role as teacher of the deaf and blind Keller. Contrasting their lives with Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, the era's prominent abolitionist, this book sheds light on the gender and disability expectations that affected the public perception of Sullivan and Keller. This book provides a fascinating insight into class, ethnicity, gender, and disability issues in the Gilded Age and Progressive-Era America.

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About the Author:

David Wagner, Professor of Social Work and Sociology at the University of Maine, is the award-winning author of eight previous books, including Confronting Homelessness: Poverty, Politics, and the Failure of Social Welfare.

Review:

"the most obvious strength...is Wagner's style of weaving historical facts together in such a way that makes it feel like you are reading a good novel" Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics

"In this delightful book...David Wagner has picked an excellent story to tell and he does a good job of doing so."
-H Disability

“A remarkable account of the clash over the education of Helen Keller. Weaving together the personal stories of Harvard-educated Franklin Sanborn with that of poorhouse immigrant Annie Sullivan, and the multi-handicapped Helen Keller, he places their lives within the larger histories of reform, social change, and social conflict. Wagner not only provides a compelling account of battles over the treatment of disabilities, he embeds them in the changing world of Yankees and immigrants, of Boston Brahmins and Irish paupers, of radicals, progressives and politicians. Wagner’s mastery of reform efforts on behalf of the poor and disabled make this book as informative as it is engrossing.”
―Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut

“Many books have been written about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy, but none to my knowledge have focused on the role that class, ethnicity, gender and disability played in the lives of these famous women. By closely examining the politics and gender issues of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, Wagner forcefully reminds us of how atypical their lives were and how they transcended expectations of what women could accomplish and the lives they could lead.”
―Helen Selsdon, American Federation of the Blind

“Realistic, honest, and straightforward, The Miracle Worker and the Transcendentalist is a ‘must have’ addition to the collections of all types of libraries.”
―Kim Charlson, Director, Braille & Talking Book Library, Perkins School for the Blind

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