American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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A Whitman Notebook

Supply Object Title
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Holograph notebook,
ca. 1847-1854
Manuscript Division

The Library holds the world's largest Walt Whitman manuscript collection, which numbers 20,000 items and includes many original notebooks. In these sometimes homemade or adapted notebooks the poet jotted down random thoughts in prose and expressions in poetry. Here Whitman breaks off from prose ruminations and speaks--perhaps for the first time--in the revolutionary verse form he created. In this "1847" notebook, these remarkable trial flights of verse for what later evolved into "Song of Myself"--the opening section of Leaves of Grass (1855)--probably date closer to 1854. The Library completely conserved this volume in 1995 when it and three other Whitman notebooks were put on the Internet.

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