About the Digital Collections
The Library of Congress holds the most extensive array of Whitman and Whitman-related collections in the world, including manuscripts, rare books, prints, and photographs. Among the Library's holdings are three major manuscript collections housed in the Manuscript Division: the Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman; the Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman; and the Walt Whitman Papers, 1837-1957. All or parts of these physical collections have been digitized and made available on the Library's website at the links given below. The listing for each digitized collection includes a link to the Manuscript Division's finding aid for the complete physical collection.
In addition to these collections, the Library's Rare Book & Special Collections Division holds the Charles Feinberg-Whitman Collection, which includes many early editions of Whitman's writings. This collection has not been digitized.
During 2019 the Library of Congress celebrated the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth with a series of exhibits, events, and a digital crowdsourcing campaign (#WaltWhitman200) that showcased the Library’s unparalleled collections of Whitman’s writings and artifacts. The campaign allowed member of the public the opportunity to transcribe samples of Whitman’s poetry, prose and correspondence, including versions of poems such as “Oh Captain! My Captain!” and fragments of poems Whitman published in more finished form in Leaves of Grass. A second Whitman crowdsourcing campaign launched in May 2021, focused on transcribing Whitman's notebooks and diaries.
The Library's Exhibitions pages feature digitized versions of present and past physical exhibits held at the Library since the early 1990s. Several of these exhibits include material related to Walt Whitman; one exhibit, Revising Himself: Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass, focuses exclusively on Whitman's life and work. These exhibits are listed below.
Search the Library's collections of prints, photographs, and drawings on the phrase "Walt Whitman" to find images of Walt Whitman, his residences, and other related items. A gallery of selected images of Whitman appears below.
Whitman has been the subject of numerous posts on Library of Congress blogs. These are listed below.
The Library has hosted a number of talks, presentations, and symposia related to Walt Whitman during the past two decades, many of which have been filmed and made available online as webcasts. Links to these webcasts appear below.
SPEAKER: Daniel Mark Epstein
EVENT DATE: 2004/09/30
RUNNING TIME: 47 minutes
The Library maintains many resources designed to help teachers and other educators incorporate primary source materials on the Library's website into the classroom. Educator resources on the Library's website that feature materials from the online Whitman collections are listed below.
Materials related to Walt Whitman are dispersed through the Library's website. Notable resources on the site that include Whitman materials, and which are not mentioned elsewhere in this research guide, are listed below.
A collaborative project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, Chronicling America makes available nearly 15 million digitized newspaper pages from 48 U.S. states and District of Columbia. The dates covered currently range from 1789-1963, and the pages are all in the public domain and are free to reuse. The historical newspapers in Chronicling America include samples of Whitman's poetry, as well as articles about his life and writings. For help locating newspaper articles about Whitman, see the following resource created by staff in our Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room:
A discussion of Whitman's poem "I Hear America Singing" by former Library of Congress poetry specialist David Kresh. See also the related recording of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins reading "I Hear America Singing."
Search on Walt Whitman to return articles about Whitman events and features at the Library taking place between 1993-2011, such as a 2005 feature article on the exhibition Revising Himself: Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass.
A collection of field recordings by a wide range of award-winning contemporary poets. Each poet reads a singular American poem of his or her choosing and discusses how the poem connects, deepens, or re-imagines our sense of the nation. The feature includes a print version of the poem to complement the recording, as well as a piece by the participating poet. Three Poetry of America recordings feature Whitman:
The Song of America Tour was a celebration of creativity across America. This affiliated website provides information about the musical arrangement of Whitman's poem "Ethiopia Saluting the Colors," which was sung by renowned baritone Thomas Hampson during the tour (listen to recording).
Today in History is a feature that highlights significant events or figures in American history associated with a particular day. Every Today in History feature includes a brief essay supported by primary resources, followed by a bulleted listed which offers suggestions for finding related Library of Congress resources. Two Today in History features highlight Walt Whitman's life and poetry:
Includes the text of the poem "A Christmas Greeting."