MRS. KATE ADAMS KELLER
Boston, April 13, 1893.
Mrs. Pratt and I very unexpectedly decided to take a journey with dear Dr. Bell
Mr. Westervelt, a gentleman whom father met in Washington, has a school
for the deaf in Rochester. We went there first....
Westervelt gave us a reception one afternoon. A great many people came. Some of
them asked odd questions. A lady seemed surprised that I loved flowers when I
could not see their beautiful colors, and when I assured her I did love them,
she said, "no doubt you feel the colors with your fingers." But of
course, it is not alone for their bright colors that we love the flowers.... A
gentleman asked me what BEAUTY meant to my mind. I must confess I was puzzled at
first. But after a minute I answered that beauty was a form of goodness--and he
the reception was over we went back to the hotel and teacher slept quite
unconscious of the surprise which was in store for her. Mr. Bell and I planned
it together, and Mr. Bell made all the arrangements before we told teacher
anything about it. This was the surprise--I was to have the pleasure of taking
my dear teacher to see Niagara Falls!...
hotel was so near the river that I could feel it rushing past by putting my hand
on the window. The next morning the sun rose bright and warm, and we got up
quickly for our hearts were full of pleasant expectation.... You can never
imagine how I felt when I stood in the presence of Niagara until you have the
same mysterious sensations yourself. I could hardly realize that it was water
that I felt rushing and plunging with impetuous fury at my feet. It seemed as if
it were some living thing rushing on to some terrible fate. I wish I could
describe the cataract as it is, its beauty and awful grandeur, and the fearful
and irresistible plunge of its waters over the brow of the precipice. One feels
helpless and overwhelmed in the presence of such a vast force. I had the same
feeling once before when I first stood by the great ocean and felt its waves
beating against the shore. I suppose you feel so, too, when you gaze up to the
stars in the stillness of the night, do you not?... We went down a hundred and
twenty feet in an elevator that we might see the violent eddies and whirlpools
in the deep gorge below the Falls. Within two miles of the Falls is a wonderful
suspension bridge. It is thrown across the gorge at a height of two hundred and
fifty-eight feet above the water and is supported on each bank by towers of
solid rock, which are eight hundred feet apart. When we crossed over to the
Canadian side, I cried, "God save the Queen!" Teacher said I was a
little traitor. But I do not think so. I was only doing as the Canadians do,
while I was in their country, and besides I honor England's good queen.
will be pleased, dear Mother, to hear that a kind lady whose name is Miss Hooker
is endeavoring to improve my speech. Oh, I do so hope and pray that I shall
speak well some day!...
Munsell spent last Sunday evening with us. How you would have enjoyed hearing
him tell about Venice! His beautiful word-pictures made us feel as if we were
sitting in the shadow of San Marco, dreaming, or sailing upon the moonlit
canal.... I hope when I visit Venice, as I surely shall some day, that Mr.
Munsell will go with me. That is my castle in the air. You see, none of my
friends describe things to me so vividly and so beautifully as he does....
visit to the World's Fair she described in a letter to Mr. John P. Spaulding,
which was published in St. Nicholas, and is much like the following letter. In a
prefatory note which Miss Sullivan wrote for St. Nicholas, she says that people
frequently said to her, "Helen sees more with her fingers than we do with
our eyes." The President of the Exposition gave her this letter:
THE CHIEFS OF THE DEPARTMENTS AND OFFICERS IN CHARGE OF BUILDINGS AND EXHIBITS
bearer, Miss Helen Keller, accompanied by Miss Sullivan, is desirous of making a
complete inspection of the Exposition in all Departments. She is blind and deaf,
but is able to converse, and is introduced to me as one having a wonderful
ability to understand the objects she visits, and as being possessed of a high
order of intelligence and of culture beyond her years. Please favour her with
every facility to examine the exhibits in the several Departments, and extend to
her such other courtesies as may be possible.
you in advance for the same, I am, with respect,
H. N. HIGINBOTHAM,
MISS CAROLINE DERBY
Penn., August 17, 1893.
one at the Fair was very kind to me... Nearly all of the exhibitors seemed
perfectly willing to let me touch the most delicate things, and they were very
nice about explaining everything to me. A French gentleman, whose name I cannot
remember, showed me the great French bronzes. I believe they gave me more
pleasure than anything else at the Fair: they were so lifelike and wonderful to
my touch. Dr. Bell went with us himself to the electrical building, and showed
us some of the historical telephones. I saw the one through which Emperor Dom
Pedro listened to the words, "To be, or not to be," at the Centennial.
Dr. Gillett of Illinois took us to the Liberal Arts and Woman's buildings. In
the former I visited Tiffany's exhibit, and held the beautiful Tiffany diamond,
which is valued at one hundred thousand dollars, and touched many other rare and
costly things. I sat in King Ludwig's armchair and felt like a queen when Dr.
Gillett remarked that I had many loyal subjects. At the Woman's building we met
the Princess Maria Schaovskoy of Russia, and a beautiful Syrian lady. I liked
them both very much. I went to the Japanese department with Prof. Morse who is a
well-known lecturer. I never realized what a wonderful people the Japanese are
until I saw their most interesting exhibit. Japan must indeed be a paradise for
children to judge from the great number of playthings which are manufactured
there. The queer-looking Japanese musical instruments, and their beautiful works
of art were interesting. The Japanese books are very odd. There are forty-seven
letters in their alphabets. Prof. Morse knows a great deal about Japan, and is
very kind and wise. He invited me to visit his museum in Salem the next time I
go to Boston. But I think I enjoyed the sails on the tranquil lagoon, and the
lovely scenes, as my friends described them to me, more than anything else at
the Fair. Once, while we were out on the water, the sun went down over the rim
of the earth, and threw a soft, rosy light over the White City, making it look
more than ever like Dreamland....
course, we visited the Midway Plaisance. It was a bewildering and fascinating
place. I went into the streets of Cairo, and rode on the camel. That was fine
fun. We also rode in the Ferris wheel, and on the ice-railway, and had a sail in
the spring of 1893 a club was started in Tuscumbia, of which Mrs. Keller was
president, to establish a public library. Miss Keller says:
wrote to my friends about the work and enlisted their sympathy. Several hundred
books, including many fine ones, were sent to me in a short time, as well as
money and encouragement. This generous assistance encouraged the ladies, and
they have gone on collecting and buying books ever since, until now they have a
very respectable public library in the town."
MRS. CHARLES E. INCHES
Penn., Oct. 21, 1893.
spent September at home in Tuscumbia... and were all very happy together.... Our
quiet mountain home was especially attractive and restful after the excitement
and fatigue of our visit to the World's Fair. We enjoyed the beauty and solitude
of the hills more than ever.
now we are in Hulton, Penn. again where I am going to study this winter with a
tutor assisted by my dear teacher. I study Arithmetic, Latin and literature. I
enjoy my lessons very much. It is so pleasant to learn about new things. Every
day I find how little I know, but I do not feel discouraged since God has given
me an eternity in which to learn more. In literature I am studying Longfellow's
poetry. I know a great deal of it by heart, for I loved it long before I knew a
metaphor from a synecdoche. I used to say I did not like arithmetic very well,
but now I have changed my mind. I see what a good and useful study it is, though
I must confess my mind wanders from it sometimes! for, nice and useful as
arithmetic is, it is not as interesting as a beautiful poem or a lovely story.
But bless me, how time does fly. I have only a few moments left in which to
answer your questions about the "Helen Keller" Public Library.
I think there are about 3,000 people in Tuscumbia, Ala., and perhaps half of
them are colored people. 2. At present there is no library of any sort in the
town. That is why I thought about starting one. My mother and several of my lady
friends said they would help me, and they formed a club, the object of which is
to work for the establishment of a free public library in Tuscumbia. They have
now about 100 books and about $55 in money, and a kind gentleman has given us
land on which to erect a library building. But in the meantime the club has
rented a little room in a central part of the town, and the books which we
already have are free to all. 3. Only a few of my kind friends in Boston know
anything about the library. I did not like to trouble them while I was trying to
get money for poor little Tommy, for of course it was more important that he
should be educated than that my people should have books to read. 4. I do not
know what books we have, but I think it is a miscellaneous (I think that is the
My teacher thinks it would be more businesslike to say that a list of the
contributors toward the building fund will be kept and published in my father's
paper, the "North Alabamian."
MISS CAROLINE DERBY
Penn., December 28, 1893.
thank dear Miss Derby for me for the pretty shield which she sent me. It is a
very interesting souvenir of Columbus, and of the Fair White City; but I cannot
imagine what discoveries I have made,--I mean new discoveries. We are all
discoverers in one sense, being born quite ignorant of all things; but I hardly
think that is what she meant. Tell her she must explain why I am a