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Helen Keller Biography and Facts

Helen Keller seen here reading braille. Helen Keller was the first person who was deafblind to attend and graduate from college: Radcliffe in 1904.

Feminist and revolutionary Qiu Jin was born in 1875 in China. She was vocal about women's rights and pressed for better access to education for women. At the time it was still customary for women to have their feet bound at the age of five, rendering women crippled and severely dependent on others. Qiu Jin encouraged women to resist oppression by their families and by the government, and to gain financial independence through education. She was beheaded by the authorities at the age of 31.

Mary Walker was a physician and women's rights activist who received the Medal of Honor for her service during the Civil War. Mary Walker was born on November 26, 1832, in Oswego, New York. She graduated from Syracuse Medical College and, while serving as an assistant surgeon during the Civil War, was captured by the Confederate army. She was awarded a Medal of Honor for her service, and went on to lecture on women's rights, dress reform and suffrage. Walker died in Oswego in 1919.

One of the earliest known photographs of a human is this self portrait taken in 1839, of young Robert Cornelius (1809-93) standing outside his family’s lamp-making shop in Philadelphia. Cornelius was an American of Dutch descent whose knowledge of metallurgical chemistry was to help in perfecting the process of silver-plating, then employed in the production of daguerreotypes.

Eleanor Roosevelt was First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She was also an advocate for human and civil rights. She was made a delegate to the UN General Assembly and played a key role in in drafting the Universal declaration of human rights. She also was a key figure in John F. Kennedy's Presidential Commission on the status of women.

Fredi Washington refused to "pass" for white, at Hollywood's suggestion, and was therefore typecast as mixed race and never allowed a flourishing career. Her stance, however, made her an advocate among African Americans.