Johanna "Anne" Mansfield Sullivan Macy - (April 14, 1866 - October 20, 1936), also known as AnnieSullivan, was an American teacher best known as the instructor and companion of Helen Keller. When Anne was six her mother, Alice, died; and when she was eight her father, Thomas, left, after which Anne was sent to an almshouse. In 1880 Anne was sent to the Perkins School for the Blind. Anne Sullivan is an integral character in The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson, originally produced for television, where she was portrayed by Teresa Wright. The play then moved to Broadway, and was later produced as a 1962 feature film. Both the Broadway play and 1962 film featured Anne Bancroft in the Anne Sullivan role. Patty Duke, who played Helen Keller in the 1962 film version, later played Anne Sullivan in a 1979 television remake. Alison Elliott recently portrayed her in a 2000 television movie. Alison Pill played Annie Sullivan on Broadway in the 2010 revival of The Miracle Worker, with Abigail Breslin as Helen Keller. Both Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke won Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for their roles as Sullivan and Keller in the 1962 film version. She contracted trachoma, a highly infectious eye infection, when she was eight years old which left her blind and without reading or writing skills.
She received her education as a student of the Perkins School for the Blind where upon graduation she became a teacher to Helen. Due to Anne losing her sight at such a young age she had no skills in reading, writing, or sewing and the only work she could find was as a housemaid; however, this position was unsuccessful. Another blind resident staying at the Tewksbury almshouse told her of schools for the blind. During an 1880 inspection of the almshouse, she convinced an inspector to allow her to leave and enroll in the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, where she began her studies on October 7, 1880. Although her rough manners made her first years at Perkins humiliating for her, she managed to connect with a few teachers and made progress with her learning. While there, she befriended and learned the manual alphabet from Laura Bridgman, a graduate of Perkins and the first blind and deaf person to be educated there. Also while there, she had a series of eye operations that significantly improved her vision. In June 1886, she graduated from there at age 20 as the valedictorian of her class. She stated “Fellow-graduates: duty bids us go forth into active life. Let us go cheerfully, hopefully, and earnestly, and set ourselves to find our especial part. When we have found it, willingly and faithfully perform it."The summer following Anne's graduation, the director of the Perkins Institution, Michael Anagnos, was contacted by Arthur Keller, who was in search of a teacher for his 7-year-old blind and deaf daughter, Helen. Michael immediately recommended Anne for this position and she began her work on March 3, 1887 at the Kellers' home in Tuscumbia, Alabama. As soon as she arrived there, she argued with Helen's parents about the Civil War and over the fact that they used to own slaves. However she also quickly connected with Helen. It was the beginning of a 49-year relationship: Anne evolved from teacher to governess and finally to companion and friend.
Anne's teachings to Helen involved a very strict schedule with constant introduction of new vocabulary words; however, Anne quickly changed her teachings after seeing they did not suit Helen. Instead, she began to teach her vocabulary based on her own interests, where she spelled each word out into Helen's palm; within six months this method proved to be working when Helen had learned 575 words, some multiplication tables, as well as the Braille system. Anne strongly encouraged Helen's parents to send her to the Perkins School where she could have an appropriate teaching. When they agreed, Anne took Helen to Boston in 1888 and stayed with her there. Anne continued to teach her bright protégée, who soon became famous for her remarkable progress. With the help of Michael Anagnos, Helen became a public symbol for the school, helping to increase its funding and donations and making it the most famous and sought-after school for the blind in the country. However, an accusation of plagiarism against Helen was very upsetting to Anne: she left and never returned, but did remain influential to the school. Anne remained a close companion to Helen and continued to assist in her education, which ultimately included a degree from Radcliffe College.In 1932 Helen and Anne were each awarded honorary fellowships from the Educational Institute of Scotland. They also were awarded honorary degrees from Temple University. In 1955 Anne was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard University., and in 1956 the director's cottage at the Perkins School was named the Keller-Macy Cottage. Anne had been seriously visually impaired for almost all of her life, but by 1935 she was completely blind in both eyes. On October 15, 1936, she suffered a coronary thrombosis, fell into a coma, and then died five days later on October 20 at age 70, in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. She died with Helen holding her hand. Helen described Anne's last month as being very agitated, but during the last week was said to return to her normal generous self Sullivan was cremated and her ashes were interred in a memorial at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. She was the first woman to be recognized for her achievements in this way. When Helen died in 1968, her ashes were placed in the Washington National Cathedral next to those of Anne.