Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Bertha Johnston, 2 January 1891

Date: January 2, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02434

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Andrew David King, and Stephanie Blalock

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Camden NJ1
Jan: 2 '91

Thank you dear girl for y'r kind welcome letter safely rec'd.2 Am here still holding the fort sort o' (as I call it)—has been four days of glum weather here but the sun is just shining out.—pretty fair spirits but bad grip & other bothers—Best love to yr dear father & Alma,3 & all, & God make the new year happy to you all

Walt Whitman

Bertha Johnston (1872–1953) was the daughter of Whitman's friend John H. Johnston and his first wife Amelia. Like her father, Bertha Johnston was passionate about literature. She was also involved with the suffrage movement and was a member of the Brooklyn Society of Ethical Culture.


1. This postal card is addressed: Miss Bertha Johnston | 305 E 17th street | New York City. It is postmarked: D | JA 3-91 | 6 A | N.Y.; CAMDEN, N.J. | JAN 2 | 6PM | 91. [back]

2. This letter may not survive. [back]

3. John H. (J.H.) Johnston (1837–1919) was a New York jeweler who became a close friend of Whitman's. Whitman visited Johnston's home frequently, and Johnston assisted with raising funds for the aging poet. Alma Calder Johnston was an author and John's second wife. Her family owned a home and property in Equinunk, Pennsylvania. For more on the Johnstons, see Susan L. Roberson, "Johnston, John H. (1837–1919) and Alma Calder" (Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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