Welcome to the Walt Whitman Hypertext Archive

A General Introduction

The Walt Whitman Hypertext Archive is an electronic research and teaching tool that sets out to make Whitman’s vast work, for the first time, easily and conveniently accessible to scholars, students, and general readers.  Whitman, America’s most influential poet and one of the four or five most innovative and significant writers in United States history, is the most challenging of all American authors in terms of the textual difficulties his work presents.  He left behind an enormous amount of written material, and his major life work, Leaves of Grass, went through six very different editions, each of which was issued in a number of formats, creating a book that is probably best studied as numerous distinct creations rather than as a single revised work.  His many notebooks, manuscript fragments, prose essays, letters, and voluminous journalistic articles all offer key cultural and biographical contexts for his poetry.  The Archive sets out to incorporate as much of this material as possible, drawing on the resources of libraries and collections from around the United States and around the world.  The Archive is directed by Kenneth M. Price (University of Nebraska, Lincoln) and Ed Folsom (University of Iowa).

Our goal is to create a dynamic site that will grow and change over the years.  We are currently in the process of putting online both facsimile and e-text versions of all the editions of Leaves of Grass; some editions are already available.  Also available is an extended biography of Whitman, written by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price; eventually, this biography will contain links to photos, maps of Whitman-related locations, and short essays about Whitman’s friends and associates.  All contemporary reviews of Whitman’s work are currently available, as are all known photographs of Whitman, complete with annotations.  Introductions to each edition of Leaves, reprinted from Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, edited by J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, are available through an agreement with Garland Publishing Company.  And, in conjunction with the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, we offer an up-to-date bibliography of books, essays, notes, and reviews about Whitman; this is the only comprehensive current bibliography of work about Whitman.

The next large addition to the Archive will be facsimiles and e-text of Whitman’s poetry manuscripts, which have never before been systematically collected and edited.  This work is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  We currently have online some sample manuscripts, including Whitman’s drafts of “Live Oak, with Moss,” the sequence of poems that forms the core of his Calamus cluster.  We also provide links to Whitman’s recently recovered notebooks—from the 1850s and 1860s—housed at the Library of Congress.  Eventually, we plan to present all of Whitman’s manuscript notes toward and versions of every poem in Leaves of Grass.

The Archive also offers teaching suggestions and sample student electronic projects focusing on Whitman and his times.  Eventually, we will offer structured teaching units built around particular themes, sample syllabi from Whitman courses around the world, and many more student projects selected by our Advisory Board.

The Archive is affiliated with the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities.  We cooperate with and benefit from the expertise of the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia.  We wish to thank the University of Iowa, the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and the College of William & Mary for their generous support.  We also gratefully acknowledge grant support from the  U. S. Department of Education and its Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

A note on navigation: The Whitman image at the top of each page will always return the user to the full Archive index.

© 1995, 1996, and 2000 by Kenneth M. Price and Ed Folsom, all rights reserved. These texts may be shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Redistribution or republication of these texts on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the authors.