by Peter Armenti, Digital Reference Specialist
The Library of Congress houses the largest archival collection of Walt Whitman materials in the world. As part of the Library's mission to make its resources available and useful to the American public, the Library has digitized a number of these materials, and has also created an array of online secondary sources that highlight Whitman's life and work. This guide compiles the many Whitman resources spread throughout the Library's Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites on Walt Whitman, and a selected bibliography of significant Whitman publications.
Library of Congress Web Site | External
Web Sites | Selected Bibliography
WATCH: Whitman's Future-Founding Poetry (12/15/2011):
Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman Papers
The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman Papers consists of approximately 3,000 items (4,126 images) spanning the period 1842-1937, with most of the items dated from 1855, when Whitman first published the poem Leaves of Grass, to his death at age seventy-three in 1892. Harned, an attorney and one of Whitman’s three literary executors, donated his collection to the Library of Congress in 1918. It consists of correspondence, poetry and prose manuscripts, notes and notebooks, proofs and offprints, printed matter, and miscellaneous items.
As a comprehensive digital edition of the Harned Collection, this collection expands greatly on the Library’s earlier online presentation, titled Poet at Work, which was limited to the series listed as Recovered Cardboard Butterfly and Notebooks.
Walt Whitman Papers in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection
The papers of poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection consist of approximately 28,000 items spanning from 1763 to 1985. The bulk of the items date from the 1840s through Whitman's death in 1892, and into the twentieth century. The collection of correspondence, literary manuscripts, books, proofs, and associated items represent periods of Whitman's life from his early time living in New York, middle-age in Washington, D.C., and the last phase of his life in Camden, New Jersey. The papers include primary documentation of Whitman's friends and family; his experience as a civil servant and hospital volunteer in Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War; his contributions as a lecturer and social commentator; and his decades-long career as a journalist, prose writer, literary and arts critic, and poet.
Walt Whitman Papers (Miscellaneous Manuscript Collection)
This small collection of papers (about 150 items; 1,200 images) of poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) spans the years 1837-1957 with the bulk concentrated in the period 1840-1891. Included are examples of the poet’s original correspondence and literary manuscripts, photocopies and transcripts of similar Whitman material, and printed matter and miscellaneous items relating to Whitman. Known as the Walt Whitman Papers Miscellaneous Manuscript Collection (MMC), it contains only a small sampling of the types of items found in the larger Library of Congress collections of Whitman material, most notably those assembled by Thomas Biggs Harned and Charles E. Feinberg (digital edition forthcoming). It includes, however, some of Whitman's earliest known correspondence, written to Abraham P. Leech, and a printed copy of Whitman's poem O Captain! My Captain! containing the poet's handwritten corrections. A small selection of family letters, including correspondence of Whitman's mother, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, and his sister, Hannah Louisa Whitman Heyde describe domestic routines and express personal sentiments.
Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years
This collection of ninety representative documents from the Library's Manuscript Division features two Whitman-related items:
Letter, Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman extolling Whitman's poetry, July 21, 1855
Letter and corrected reprint of Walt Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain" with comments by author, February 9, 1888
American Treasures of the Library of Congress
A digital presentation of some of the Library's most noted treasures. Sections featuring Walt Whitman include:
A Whitman Notebook
O Captain! My Captain!
Walt Whitman and the Civil War
Revising Himself: Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass
This exhibition, created as a special presentation for American Treasures of the Library of Congress, traces the different occupations and preparations that led Whitman to become the author of Leaves of Grass, as well as his subsequent evolution as a poet.
Finding Aids to the Print Collections
The Library of Congress houses several major physical collections of Whitman materials that can be found in its Manuscript Division and Rare Book and Special Collections Division. These include:
Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman
Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman
Note: Collection now available online.
Walt Whitman Papers, 1837-1957
Note: Collection now available online.
Rare Book and Special Collections Division
Walt Whitman Collection
Topics in Chronicling America - Walt Whitman
Provides access to a sampling of articles about Whitman from historic newspapers in the Libary's Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers digital collection. Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to find additional articles about Whitman in Chronicling America.
Prints and Photographs
and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)
Conduct a keyword search of PPOC on the phrase Walt Whitman to find images of Walt Whitman, his residences, and other related photographs. A subject search on Walt Whitman restricts results primarily to images of Whitman. See also PPOC's Feinberg-Whitman Collection, which includes many Whitman-related photographs.
Teacher and Educator Resources
Collection Connection: Poet at Work
Ideas for integrating material from the Poet at Work collection, which features four Walt Whitman notebooks, into the classroom.
Lyrical Legacy – "O Captain! My Captain"
Analyze Whitman's poem "O Captain! My Captain" as a historical document.
1900 America: Historical Voices, Poetic Visions
This lesson plan includes an Introduction to the Epic Poem Format which asks students to compare Whitman's Song of Myself to Hart Crane's The Bridge.
Thomas Hampson Teacher Institute
The Thomas Hampson Teacher Institute was designed to help educators use Library of Congress primary source materials to explore the legacy of American song and poetry in their classrooms. The online materials for the Teacher Institute feature two activities which incorporate items from the Library's digitized Whitman content:
Found poetry exercise
Using the Whitman notebooks as source material, students create a found poem.
Primary source investigation
Students can study this set of materials related to Walt Whitman to gain practice analyzing primary sources.
A now-incactive digital magazine designed to introduce users to the many fascinating, educational, and useful resources available on the Library's Web site. The Wise Guide includes three articles which highlight Whitman resources:
Each of Us is Inevitable
The 'Parallel Lives' of Lincoln and Whitman
Whitman's Notebooks: A Mysterious WWII Disappearance and a Happy Homecoming
Today in History Features
May 31, 1819
Walt Whitman, American poet, journalist, and essayist, was born on May 31, 1819, in West Hills, New York.
February 9, 1888
On February 9, 1888, Walt Whitman penned a note to the publishers of The Riverside Literature Series No. 32 calling attention to mistakes in their recently printed version of his poem, "O Captain! My Captain!"
Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman & America's First Bohemians
Lindsay Tuggle, "The Afterlives of Specimens: Science & Mourning in Whitman's America"
Karen Karbiener, "Walt Whitman, Rural New Yorker"
Daniel Mark Epstein on Walt Whitman's "The Death of Lincoln"
Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington
Walt Whitman Birthday Celebration
Walt Whitman’s Elegy for Lincoln
Whitman and Place
"Reading Whitman" (also published on Medium)
From the Catbird Seat: Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress, April 5, 2017
"Walt Whitman’s Wartime Experience: Using Primary Sources to Offer Context"
From the Catbird Seat: Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress, March 1, 2017
"New Online: The Walt Whitman Papers in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection"
From the Catbird Seat: Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress, January 26, 2017
"Discovering Walt Whitman at the Library of Congress"
From the Catbird Seat: Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress, December 7, 2016
"Two Walt Whitman Collections Added to Library’s Website"
From the Catbird Seat: Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress, August 18, 2016
"The Process of Discovery: How a New Walt Whitman Poem was Found at the Library of Congress"
From the Catbird Seat: Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress, May 27, 2015
"Walt Whitman’s War Work: Primary Sources in the English Classroom"
From the Catbird Seat: Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress, October 23, 2014
"A Fake Audio Butterfly"
Now See Hear! The National Audio-Visual Conservation Center Blog, October 9, 2014
"Inquiring Minds: An Interview with Kluge Fellow Lindsay Tuggle"
Library of Congress Blog, January 24, 2013
"Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman in the Law Library"
In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress, August 5, 2010
Entry on Walt Whitman from Voices of the Civil War
“I Hear America Singing”
Includes the text of Whitman's poem "I Hear America Singing," as well as an introduction written by former Library of Congress poetry specialist David Kresh, and an audio recording of the poem by former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins.
Library of Congress Information Bulletin
Search on Walt Whitman to return articles about past Whitman events and features at the Library, such as a feature article on the exhibition Revising Himself: Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass.
Song of America Tour
The Song of America Tour was a celebration of creativity across America. The above Web site features an audio recording of renowned baritone Thomas Hampson singing Whitman's poem "Ethiopia Saluting the Colors," and also provides information about the poem's music arrangement.
Walt Whitman Salutes the New Republic Brazil
Includes the text of the poem "A Christmas Greeting."
Whitman and Nationalism
This page, part of the presentation The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War, includes excerpts from Whitman's writing that reflect national pride and confidence.
Academy of American Poets: Walt Whitman
A brief biography of Whitman, selected poems, and links to other Web sites of interest.
Modern American Poetry: Walt Whitman
Includes critical excerpts on selected Walt Whitman poems, including "I Hear American Singing" and "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking."
PAL: Perspectives in American Literature: Walt Whitman
A research guide to Whitman's life and work that includes a selected bibliography of biographical and critical publications.
Walt Whitman and Slavery
Part of The Classroom Electric: Dickinson, Whitman, and American Culture, this site invites users to consider Whitman's treatment of race and slavery in "Song of Myself" and focuses in particular on two fugitive slave passages.
Walt Whitman Archive
A major online resource for Whitman Studies, the Walt Whitman Archive maintains facsimile and e-text versions of multiple editions of Leaves of Grass; a collection of criticism and reviews of Whitman's writings; an extended biographical essay on Whitman's life; an archive of Whitman images; and other resources of interest to teachers, students, scholars, and the general public.
Walt Whitman Birthplace
The official Web site of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (WWBA).
The Walt Whitman House in Camden, New Jersey
The official Web site of the Walt Whitman House in Camden, New Jersey.
Allen, Gay W. The Solitary Singer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985. [Catalog Record]
Asselineau, Roger. The Evolution of Walt Whitman. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999.
Belasco, Susan, Ed Folsom, and Kenneth M. Price, eds. Leaves of Grass: The Sesquicentennial Essays. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2007. [Catalog Record]
"Bibliography of Scholarship." The Walt Whitman Archive. Eds. Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. 4 June 2007 <http://www.whitmanarchive.org/bibliography/index.html>.
Blake, David Haven. Walt Whitman and the Culture of American Celebrity. New Haven: Yale University
Press, 2006. [Catalog Record]
Bloom, Harold, ed. Walt Whitman. New York : Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2007. [Catalog Record]
Bohan, Ruth L. Looking into Walt Whitman: American Art, 1850-1920. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006. [Catalog Record]
Grossman, Jay. Reconstituting the American Renaissance: Emerson, Whitman, and the Politics of Representation. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. [Catalog Record]
Kaplan, Justin. Walt Whitman, A Life. New York: Perennial, 2003. [Catalog Record]
Killingsworth, M. Jimmie. The Cambridge Introduction to Walt Whitman. New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007. [Catalog Record]
Killingsworth, M. Jimmie. Walt Whitman and the Earth: A Study in Ecopoetics. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004. [Catalog Record]
Lemaster, J.R., and Donald D. Kummings. Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Pub., 1998. [Catalog Record]
Myerson, Joel. Walt Whitman: A Descriptive Bibliography. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993. [Catalog Record]
Pannapacker, William. Revised Lives: Walt Whitman and Nineteenth-century Authorship. New York : Routledge, 2004. [Catalog Record]
Price, Kenneth M. To Walt Whitman, America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, c2004. [Catalog Record]
Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. [Catalog Record]
Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995.