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.
In partnership with Manuscript Division historian Barbara Bair, By the People has launched three additional Walt Whitman projects: his family papers, general correspondence, and some oversize materials. These 11,000+ pages reveal Whitman's family relationships as well as his interactions with literary peers, friends, patrons, critics, and admirers. Start transcribing these materials today!
Whitman's family papers span forty years from 1852 (three years before the first publication of Leaves of Grass) to the end of Whitman’s life in 1892. A highlight in the series is the 1863 diary written by Whitman’s brother George (1829-1901), who served in a New York regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War. Whitman was especially close to George and to their younger brother Jeff (1833-1890), who lived and worked in St. Louis.
In his general correspondence series, you'll find drafts of letters to and from Whitman, spanning from 1841 to 1892. Among those represented in the letters are John Burroughs, Charles Eldridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fanny Fern, Anne Gilchrist, Richard Watson Gilder, Robert Ingersoll, William Slone Kennedy, William and Ellen O’Connor, James Redpath, William Michael Rossetti, and Oscar Wilde, future literary executors Richard Maurice Bucke and Thomas Biggs Harned and many others, including Whitman’s significant other, the streetcar and railroad conductor Peter Doyle.
The oversize series contains manuscript drafts and a sampling of the freelance writing Whitman did for different newspapers and periodicals over his career. These materials are from the Poetry and Prose sections of the Feinberg-Whitman Collection in the Manuscript Division but are physically stored in a slightly different way than the rest of the collection. Because of their size, the original documents are stored unfolded and flattened in large-sized folders rather than in regular-sized archival boxes.
Enjoy the latest Whitman batch! And we always love to hear from you about what you're learning as you transcribe and review.
And completed Whitman transcriptions added to loc.gov!
Alongside the addition above, we are happy to announce that your transcriptions from previous Whitman projects are now in loc.gov for the public to explore. You can find these transcriptions in the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection and in portions of the Feinberg-Whitman Collection. Thanks to you Walt Whitman scholars, students, teachers, and enthusiasts can now use these transcriptions to make new connections and develop new insights into the life and work of this great American poet!