Anne Mansfield Sullivan Macy, born Johanna Sullivan (April 14, 1866 – October 20, 1936), was a teacher best known as the instructor and companion of Helen Keller. She is also known as Annie Sullivan.
Annie Sullivan was the oldest of five children, born in Feeding Hills, a subsection of the town of Agawam, Massachusetts. Her parents, Thomas and Alice Sullivan, were impoverished cooks who left Ireland in 1847 during the Potato Famine. Her mother suffered from tuberculosis and died when Anne was eight years old. Her father was an alcoholic farm hand who abandoned his three surviving children after his wife died. Although her sister Mary was sent to live with an aunt, when Annie was ten, she and her brother Jimmie moved in with other relatives, who later sent the two siblings to the Tewksbury Almshouse (today Tewksbury Hospital). Annie spent her time there with Jimmie, in hopes that they would not be separated; however, his condition resulting from a tubercular hip weakened him and he died three months later.
When Anne Sullivan was three she began having trouble with her eyesight as a result of the eye disease trachoma, a bacterial infection that often causes blindness by scarring. Sullivan underwent a long string of surgeries. Doctors in Tewksbury had made a few vain attempts to clean her eyelids. Later, Father Barbara, the chaplain of the nearest hospital, took it upon himself to arrange a procedure. This operation failed to correct her vision. Still more attempts were made. Father Barbara took her to the Boston City Infirmary (today Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary ) this time, where she had two more operations. Even after this attempt her vision remained blurry. Sullivan returned to Tewksbury, against her will. After four years there, in 1880, she entered the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind in Boston, where she underwent surgery in 1881 and regained some of her sight. After the improvement of her eyesight, and graduating as class valedictorian in 1886, Michael Anaganos, the school's director, encouraged her to become a teacher for Helen Keller and she received special training to do this. In 1887, Sullivan had an additional surgery which restored more of her vision.