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 website. In addition, it provides links to external websites on Walt Whitman, and a selected bibliography of publications about Whitman and his writings.
To celebrate Walt Whitman's 202nd birthday, The Library of Congress has launched a new collection of Whitman's notebooks and diaries in its By the People crowdsourcing project. One of America's greatest poets, Whitman used these notebooks to draft lines for his poems, ideas for stories, and his thoughts about famous people and all manner of other topics.
Like the journalist he was by training and occupation, Walt Whitman carried small, often handmade, notebooks with him wherever he went. He used them to jot down notes, names, observations and accounts of people he observed and met or descriptions of places visited. When a notebook was not handy, he scribbled on fragments and available scraps, or reused paper from a print shop floor. He kept short accounts of daily activities, addresses, and appointments in diary daybooks that served as informal scrapbooks for business cards and other miscellany. Notebooks from military hospitals contain names and information about soldiers in the wards. He also used notes and notebooks as a basis for his creative work as a poet and freelance writer.
We encourage you to explore these notebooks and learning more about Whitman's life and poetry! Start transcribing here.
To learn more about some of the stories contained in this campaign, read Curator Barbara Bair's latest post on the collection, "Wordsmithing Whitman: Diaries and Notebooks from the Feinberg-Whitman Papers."