Much of the work of the Whitman Archive has been focused on editing Whitman's poetry manuscripts, crucial documents that have never before been systematically collected, transcribed, and presented. We have chosen to define "poetry manuscript" broadly, since it is often hard to determine the boundary between prose and verse in Whitman's manuscripts—especially in the pre-war years, Whitman habitually migrated his writing from prose to verse. For the purposes of this project, we consider as a poetry manuscript any writing in Whitman's hand that either is written as verse, contains a key image or language that eventually made its way into a recognized Whitman poem, or discusses the making of a poem. Users of the Whitman Archive familiar with our earlier work on manuscripts can still access that material by clicking here.
In addition to the transcribed Whitman poetry manuscripts listed below, we offer access to many additional poetry manuscripts through the Integrated Catalog of Walt Whitman's Literary Manuscripts. The catalog provides access to images of manuscripts, information about holding repositories, and notes on the relationship between the manuscripts and Whitman's published writings.