Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Julia A. J. Perkins to Walt Whitman, 7 August 1890

Date: August 7, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08229

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.

Related item: Whitman crossed out this autograph request and used the verso to compose parts of a draft of his "Autobiographical Case History."

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, Breanna Himschoot, Jason McCormick, and Stephanie Blalock

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Aug—7th 1890.

Dear Walt Whitman

The ever recurring thought comes, to me to ask you for your Autograph, and now I do. This is the first time in a life of sixty years, that I have ever made such a request of anyone.

I have two of your books, Leaves of Grass, and Two Rivulets1; they have been a light to my steps, these many years.

Yours most truly,
Julia A. J. Perkins.

Onondaga Co. N.Y.

Julia A. Jennings Perkins (1830–1916) was born in New York and, in 1851, married dentist and Civil War veteran William Wirt Perkins (1827–1907). According to federal and state census records from 1860 to 1910, the couple lived around the Syracuse area—in Lysander and Baldwinsville—and had two children: Harvey James (1853–1876) and Harriet "Hattie" J. (1856–1940). According to an entry in the December 21, 1882, issue of The Index, Julia A. J. Perkins of Baldwinsville was a member of the Free Religious Association (298). Her name also appears in a letter from her sister, Adele J. Grow, published in the Report of the Convention for Organization from the Woman's National Liberal Union (edited by Matilda Joslyn Gage [Syracuse: Masters and Stone, 1890], 14), requesting that copies of the Union's journal, The Liberal Thinker, be sent to Perkins in Baldwinsville. Perkins is buried with her family in Baldwinsville's Riverview Cemetery.


1. Two Rivulets was published as a "companion volume" to the 1876 Author's edition of Leaves of Grass. Notable for its experimentations in form, typography, and printing convention, Whitman's two-volume set marks an important departure from previous publications of Leaves. The book, as one critic of the The New York Daily Tribune wrote, consisted of an "intertwining of the author's characteristic verse, alternated throughout with prose." For more information on Two Rivulets, see Frances E. Keuling-Stout, "Two Rivulets, Author's Edition [1876]" and "Preface to Two Rivulets [1876]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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