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Literary Manuscripts

Integrated Catalog of Walt Whitman's Literary Manuscripts


This Integrated Catalog was created by the Walt Whitman Archive through the work of the EAD Project Team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The machine-readable catalog, EAD encoding, and XSLT stylesheets were created by Brett Barney, Caterina Bernardini, Janel Cayer, Mary Ellen Ducey, Andrew Jewell, Courtney Lawton, Elizabeth Lorang, Kevin McMullen, and Brian Pytlik Zillig, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries and English Department. Kenneth M. Price, co-editor of the Walt Whitman Archive, and Katherine L. Walter were primary investigators for an initial grant received from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, which provided major funding for an early stage of this project. Additional funding provided by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the University of Nebraska Research Council helped further advance our early work on an Integrated Guide to Walt Whitman's Poetry Manuscripts. After completion of the poetry manuscripts integrated guide, we sought to extend the project to all Whitman manuscripts, poetry and prose alike. That work has received generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Our recent efforts have been dedicated to writing item-level entries for those prose manuscripts which could be identified as contributing directly to a published work. We hope ultimately to extend our treatment of Whitman's prose to all manuscripts, whether or not the manuscript led to a known publication.

Scope and Content

This Integrated Catalog of Walt Whitman's Literary Manuscripts provides item-level descriptions and, when available, images of all identified literary manuscripts located in archival repositories around the world. This Catalog deals only with items Whitman Archive staff have deemed poetry and/or prose manuscripts. Nearly all of Whitman's poetry manuscripts are represented in the Catalog. Because of the sheer volume of manuscripts that could be categorized as "prose" (in effect, any item handwritten by Whitman that was not poetry, correspondence, or marginalia) we initially limited our item-level descriptions of prose material to only those items that could be identified, with reasonable confidence, as having contributed to a piece of published prose. As part of a project treating Whitman's writings before the publication of Leaves of Grass, we have since added item-level descriptions of all prose manuscripts which we believe were written before or early in 1855. We intend to eventually include item-level descriptions for all prose manuscripts.

This Integrated Catalog is organized alphabetically by uniform work title and chronologically by composition date within each work. We define a "work" as the abstract idea of an individual piece of writing (poem, prose section, prose essay, etc.). We derive the uniform work title from the final published title used by Whitman during his lifetime. In most cases this is the title assigned in the final printing of Leaves of Grass (1891-92) or Complete Prose Works (1892). It should be noted, however, that some poems and prose pieces were published in earlier volumes but were not retained in these final volumes. Thus, for example, a poem that appeared in the 1860, 1867, and 1872 editions of Leaves of Grass but then was dropped from future printings would take as its uniform title that which Whitman gave to it in the 1872 edition. If we are unable to determine a particular manuscript's relationship to a published work, we consider it a work unto itself and assign a uniform work title based on the first words appearing on the manuscript.

Uniform work titles are listed alphabetically below. Clicking on a title will take you to a list of individual items related to that work. The grouping of individual manuscripts by work is intended both for the navigational ease of the site's users (since users are most familiar with Whitman's final titles) as well as to reflect the complex nature of Whitman's composition and revision methods, in which a single manuscript may contain bits of text that eventually found their way into several different works. Thus, a manuscript may appear multiple times within the Integrated Catalog, listed separately under each work to which it contributed.

Each item-level entry provides a title, date, genre, repository location information, physical characteristics, and a description of the textual content of the item. Access to images of the original item are also provided whenever possible.

Biographical Information

For additional biographical information, see "Walt Whitman", by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price, and the chronology of Whitman's Life.


  • Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892
  • Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892--Manuscripts
  • Poets, American--19th century

Integrated Catalog

Click on the title of a work below to be taken to a list of items related to that work.

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