Lion May 2013 : Page 25

Helen Keller Exhibit American Foundation for the Blind New York City Helen Keller’s accomplishments ranged far beyond overcoming disability. She was an equal rights ac-tivist, an advocate for the blind and a goodwill am-bassador. This exhibit, featuring 31 items never publicly displayed, includes artifacts, writings, pho-tos and personal items. Included are the earliest ex-isting words she wrote as a child, the honorary Oscar (photo) she won for the documentary based on her life, her Social-ist Party of America membership cards, and a Zulu shield and a silver-encased Bible she received during her travels. Keller worked for the AFB for 44 years, and the exhibit items were culled from the 80,000 pieces in the Helen Keller Archives. Visits are by appoint-ment only. Contact archivist Helen Sels-don at 212-502-7628 or hselsdon@afb.net. Asa Packer Mansion Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania A railroad kingpin who founded Lehigh Univer-sity, Asa Packer hired noted Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan to construct the 18-room, 11,000-square-foot mansion atop a hill that overlooks downtown Jim Thorpe. The home cost $14,000 in 1861, equivalent to $2.3 million today. It’s consid-ered one of the finest Italianate Villa homes in the country. The mansion draws more than 20,000 vis-itors annually–thanks to the Jim Thorpe Lions, who have operated the mansion since 1956. Packer’s daughter, Mary Packer Cummings, had donated the building to the borough in 1912, and it sat idly for decades until the club opened it for tours. Lions have kept the home in top shape, in-stalling a new roof, porch and sidewalks, reuphol-stering furniture and putting in a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system. Perkins School for the Blind Watertown, Massachusetts Perkins opened in 1832 as the nation’s first school for the blind. History has happened here ever since. Charles Dickens visited the school during his bal-lyhooed lecture tour of America in 1842. He gra-ciously allowed the school’s print department to produce 250 copies of his new book, “The Old Cu-riosity Shop,” and in “American Notes” he de-scribed the school’s progress with Laura Bridgman, who was deaf and blind. Years later, Kate Adams Keller read Dickens’ travelogue and found hope for her young daughter, Helen. Perkins graduate Anne Sullivan later brought Helen Keller to Perkins. Today Perkins educates students with multiple dis-abilities as well as the blind. Available by appoint-ment, tours of the museum and the 38-acre campus on the St. Charles River reveal the history of blind-ness education in the United States. A Helen Keller Treasure Trove Rare 1930 newsreel footage of Keller and Anne Sullivan. Keller speaks out on her greatest disappointment. Little seen film clips and photos of Keller and Twain, Churchill, Kennedy, Sinatra and others. 1950s documentary on Keller’s daily life (three parts). M AY 2 0 1 3 LION 25

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