Miss Sullivan began to teach Helen Keller on March 3rd, 1887. Three months and a half after the first word was spelled into her hand, she wrote in pencil this letter
TO HER COUSIN ANNA, MRS. GEORGE T. TURNER [Tuscumbia, Alabama, June 17, 1887.]
helen write anna george will give helen apple simpson will shoot bird jack will give helen stick of candy doctor will give mildred medicine mother will make mildred new dress [No signature]
Twenty-five days later, while she was on a short visit away from home, she wrote to her mother. Two words are almost illegible, and the angular print slants in every direction.
TO MRS. KATE ADAMS KELLER [Huntsville, Alabama, July 12, 1887.]
Helen will write mother letter papa did give helen medicine mildred will sit in swing mildred did kiss helen teacher did give helen peach george is sick in bed george arm is hurt anna did give helen lemonade dog did stand up.
conductor did punch ticket papa did give helen drink of water in car
carlotta did give helen flowers anna will buy helen pretty new hat helen will hug and kiss mother helen will come home grandmother does love helen
good-by [No signature.]
By the following September Helen shows improvement in fulness of construction and more extended relations of thought.
TO THE BLIND GIRLS AT THE PERKINS INSTITUTION IN SOUTH BOSTON [Tuscumbia, September, 1887.]
Helen will write little blind girls a letter Helen and teacher will come to see little blind girls Helen and teacher will go in steam car to boston Helen and blind girls will have fun blind girls can talk on fingers Helen will see Mr anagnos Mr anagnos will love and kiss Helen Helen will go to school with blind girls Helen can read and count and spell and write like blind girls mildred will not go to boston Mildred does cry prince and jumbo will go to boston papa does shoot ducks with gun and ducks do fall in water and jumbo and mamie do swim in water and bring ducks out in mouth to papa Helen does play with dogs Helen does ride on horseback with teacher Helen does give handee grass in hand teacher does whip handee to go fast Helen is blind Helen will put letter in envelope for blind girls good-by HELEN KELLER
A few weeks later her style is more nearly correct and freer in movement. She improves in idiom, although she still omits articles and uses the "did" construction for the simple past. This is an idiom common among children.
TO THE BLIND GIRLS AT THE PERKINS INSTITUTION [Tuscumbia, October 24, 1887.]
dear little blind girls
I will write you a letter I thank you for pretty desk I did write to mother in memphis on it mother and mildred came home wednesday mother brought me a pretty new dress and hat papa did go to huntsville he brought me apples and candy I and teacher will come to boston and see you nancy is my doll she does cry I do rock nancy to sleep mildred is sick doctor will give her medicine to make her well. I and teacher did go to church sunday mr. lane did read in book and talk Lady did play organ. I did give man money in basket. I will be good girl and teacher will curl my hair lovely. I will hug and kiss little blind girls mr. anagnos will come to see me.
good-by HELEN KELLER
TO MR. MICHAEL ANAGNOS, DIRECTOR OF THE PERKINS INSTITUTION [Tuscumbia, November, 1887.]
dear mr. anagnos I will write you a letter. I and teacher did have pictures. teacher will send it to you. photographer does make pictures. carpenter does build new houses. gardener does dig and hoe ground and plant vegetables. my doll nancy is sleeping. she is sick. mildred is well uncle frank has gone hunting deer. we will have venison for breakfast when he comes home. I did ride in wheel barrow and teacher did push it. simpson did give me popcorn and walnuts. cousin rosa has gone to see her mother. people do go to church sunday. I did read in my book about fox and box. fox can sit in the box. I do like to read in my book. you do love me. I do love you.
good-by HELEN KELLER.
TO DR. ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL [Tuscumbia, November, 1887.]
Dear Mr. Bell. I am glad to write you a letter, Father will send you picture. I and Father and aunt did go to see you in Washington. I did play with your watch. I do love you. I saw doctor in Washington. He looked at my eyes. I can read stories in my book. I can write and spell and count. good girl. My sister can walk and run. We do have fun with Jumbo. Prince is not good dog. He can not get birds. Rat did kill baby pigeons. I am sorry. Rat does not know wrong. I and mother and teacher will go to Boston in June. I will see little blind girls. Nancy will go with me. She is a good doll. Father will buy me lovely new watch. Cousin Anna gave me a pretty doll. Her name is Allie.
Good-by, HELEN KELLER.
By the beginning of the next year her idioms are firmer. More adjectives appear, including adjectives of colour. Although she can have no sensuous knowledge of colour, she can use the words, as we use most of our vocabulary, intellectually, with truth, not to impression, but to fact. This letter is to a school-mate at the Perkins Institution.
TO MISS SARAH TOMLINSON Tuscumbia, Ala. Jan. 2nd 1888.
Dear Sarah I am happy to write to you this morning. I hope Mr. Anagnos is coming to see me soon. I will go to Boston in June and I will buy father gloves, and James nice collar, and Simpson cuffs. I saw Miss Betty and her scholars. They had a pretty Christmas-tree, and there were many pretty presents on it for little children. I had a mug, and little bird and candy. I had many lovely things for Christmas. Aunt gave me a trunk for Nancy and clothes. I went to party with teacher and mother. We did dance and play and eat nuts and candy and cakes and oranges and I did have fun with little boys and girls. Mrs. Hopkins did send me lovely ring, I do love her and little blind girls.
Men and boys do make carpets in mills. Wool grows on sheep. Men do cut sheep's wool off with large shears, and send it to the mill. Men and women do make wool cloth in mills.
Cotton grows on large stalks in fields. Men and boys and girls and women do pick cotton. We do make thread and cotton dresses of cotton. Cotton has pretty white and red flowers on it. Teacher did tear her dress. Mildred does cry. I will nurse Nancy. Mother will buy me lovely new aprons and dress to take to Boston. I went to Knoxville with father and aunt. Bessie is weak and little. Mrs. Thompson's chickens killed Leila's chickens. Eva does sleep in my bed. I do love good girls.
Good-by HELEN KELLER.