Remembering the inspiring Ohioan's battle to overcome her stutter

While her husband soared to space, Annie Glenn showed her grit on the ground, overcoming a lifelong speech disability in the public eye. To honor her life—which ended in May at the age of 100—Columbus Monthly asked Carly Dearborn, the archivist in charge of the John H. Glenn Archives at Ohio State University, to highlight two documents from the collection that capture her inspirational journey.

Stuttering Journal, 1941–43
While a music student at Muskingum University, Annie Glenn started recording her stuttering experiences. “She must have been working with somebody, because there’s another handwriting in the journal that seems to give her tasks: talk to seven strangers, identify how long it took you to get your words out,” Dearborn says.

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In one telling 1941 entry, Glenn wrote about being forced to answer the phone while working at the college in New Concord. “After I had said hello, the lady asked me a question in an unkind manner,” she wrote. “I couldn’t answer her very well, so she got mad at me and said that she didn’t see why I was working there.”

Canton Woman’s Club Speech, September 1979
In 1973, Glenn took an intensive three-week course at Hollins College to address her stutter. The program was remarkably effective, though it took her six more years to summon the courage to give her first full public speech. After three months of practice, she delivered a 30-minute talk before 300 people about her verbal struggles. A copy of the speech includes handwritten reminders in the margins about breath control, speaking slowly and connecting “each word to word.”

“It really opened up a new world for her,” Dearborn says. 

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