June 20, 2013

General Joshua Chamberlain, a name that resounds with history for the State of Maine, was one of the individual’s responsible for founding, in 1905, the Maine Institution for the Blind. Today it is called The Iris Network. Chamberlain’s wife, Fanny, was visually impaired. Helen Keller was another of our first champions and hosted our first fundraiser in 1907 raising $1,000!

Ms. Keller had occasion to visit General Chamberlain at his home in Brunswick as reported in the Brunswick Record, 22 February 1934: “A visitor at the house [Chamberlain home] today can see the 22nd Alabama flag. This was either the last captured or the last surrendered flag of the Civil War. A most interesting incident occurred when Helen Keller saw it when she was examining the Chamberlain trophies when she visited the house. When told this was the 22nd Alabama flag, Miss Keller replied that that was her father’s regiment.  Several weeks later General Chamberlain received a copy of Miss Keller’s book.”

The book that Ms. Keller sent to General Chamberlain was The World I Live In and the inscription reads, “To my gallant enemy General Chamberlain from a daughter of the Fifth Alabama. Helen Keller.”

Many thanks to the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick, Maine for helping confirm the facts of this encounter and the resulting inscription!

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