Anne Mansfield Sullivan Macy

by Faith from Johnstown


Annie Mansfield Sullivan Macy: 

Special Educator of the Deaf & Blind Helen Keller

Faith Brown

              Annie was born into the Sullivan family on April 14, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts.  According to her baptismal certificate, her full name at birth was Johanna Mansfield Sullivan. Her nickname was Anne, ever since she was born.  She had three siblings, Jimmie (James) he died, Ellen, and Mary. Anne's parents were Thomas and Alice Cloesy Sullivan. The children were abused by their alcoholic father.  In 1874, Alice (Anne's mother) died from tuberculosis.  Their father abandoned them and they were all sent to an orphanage.  Shortly after they arrived at the orphanage, Jimmie, Anne's dearly loved brother died.  In 1880, Anne was diagnosed with untreated trachoma and she was very close to blindness.  Because of that incident she was sent to Perkins School for the Blind.  Anne graduated there as a valedictorian of her class.

"Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose - not the one you began with perhaps, but one you'll be glad to remember." -Anne Sullivan

Shortly after her schooling, Michael Anagnos suggested a teacher for the Keller's deaf blind daughter. He asked Anne Sullivan to become Helen's instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year relationship between Helen and Anne. Anne often stood up for Helen. The job she was given was very difficult.  Mrs. Macy began spelling words into her hand. She had not known what the letters meant, but Helen began repeating them. The teacher kept going, spelling the word doll when she gave her a doll, bread when she gave her bread, candy when she gave her candy. In less than a month Helen realized that everything had a name and that she had a way to learn.  But, in the end she managed to teach Helen to read, write, and speak.  Helen became a Christian because of Mrs. Sullivan's influence.  Without Anne, Helen would probably not have been a Christian or could have even possibly gone to heaven.

"My heart is singing for joy this morning! A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil's mind, and behold, all things are changed!"

-Anne Sullivan

"Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction"

 -Anne Sullivan


Anne Sullivan
Anne Sullivan

She willingly devoted her life to Helen and is remembered as Helen's faithful Christian teacher. She had been suffering from a heart ailment.  During the last week of Mrs. Sullivan's life, Miss Keller was almost constantly at her side. Anne Macy was in a coma from Thursday until she died on October 21, 1936. She died in their home, 71-11 Seminole Avenue, in Forest Hills, Queens.

My influence from Annie was:

I learned that if you keep at something you can usually accomplish it.  Anne kept on helping Helen, and Helen was able to learn how to read and write.  At first she thought it would be impossible to teach someone who was blind and deaf.  It just goes to show that if you persevere at something, you can finish the job.  Mrs. Sullivan also had to have patience with Helen, because sometimes it would be frustrating.

Page created on 5/14/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/14/2012 12:00:00 AM

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