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Grant for Project "Helen Keller in Her Times"

Keene, N.H., 5/2/2007 - Keene State College has been awarded a grant of $199,740 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for a project entitled “Helen Keller in Her Times.” Over the next three years, a partnership between Keene State, the Hampshire Education Collaborative, and the Disability History Museum will develop curriculum materials for secondary and higher education that will place the life and legacy of Helen Keller in historical context.

The project director is Graham Warder, contract lecturer in history, who has worked for the Disability History Museum in the past. The institutional grant administrator is Mary-Ellen Fortini.

All materials financed by the grant will be made publicly available through both the Disability History Museum and the PBS websites. The work is connected with the ongoing production of a documentary film, Becoming Helen Keller, produced by Laurie Block and tentatively scheduled to be broadcast nationally by PBS in 2010.

Through the grant, primary sources about Helen Keller from various archives will be collected, digitized, and annotated for classroom use. Background essays by scholars from across the nation will also be produced, and classroom activities will be outlined and piloted. The project is arranged around several themes, including the historically rooted experiences of disability, class, and gender; how models of language acquisition have changed over time; Keller’s use of and manipulation by various media as an international celebrity; and her efforts as a human rights activist.

The work has been designated an NEH “We the People” project. The goal of the “We the People” initiative is to encourage the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture and to advance knowledge of the principles that define the nation.

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