Catalogs of Manuscripts at Individual Repositories

Catalog of the Walt Whitman Literary Manuscripts in the Walt Whitman Collection, Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania

Original records created by Leslie J. Delauter for the Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Pennsylvania; revised and expanded by The Walt Whitman Archive and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. Encoded Archival Description completed with the assistance of the Gladys Kreible Delmas Foundation, the University of Nebraska Research Council, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Title: Walt Whitman Literary Manuscripts in the Walt Whitman Collection, Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania

Collection Number: Ms. Coll. 190

Creator:  Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892

Collector:  Sprague, Harriet Chapman Jones, Margery Cridland, John R. Stevenson

Repository:  Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania

This catalog was created from the original register created by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania, and obtained by The Walt Whitman Archive. The original papers and the finding aid completed by Leslie J. Delauter are held at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania.

Scope and Content: 
The bulk of the Walt Whitman Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Library was acquired from Mrs. Frank Julian Sprague of New York, a collector of Whitmania, with additional contributors including Mrs. Charles Cridland (the granddaughter of David McKay) and John R. Stevenson. The manuscript collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, and memorabilia that primarily represent Whitman's life and career after the Civil War and until his death, from 1867 to 1892. It also holds letters and papers of early supporters, biographers, and guardians of the Whitman legacy. These letters shed particular light on Whitman's relationship with William Michael Rossetti, the Gilchrist family, and Whitman's publishers in the 1880s. Roughly a third of the Whitman collection comprises correspondence, including Whitman's personal correspondence, dated between 1868 and 1891. Most of these items were exchanged between Whitman and Anne Gilchrist, whom he called his "noblest woman friend." Their correspondence, begun immediately following the 1870 publication of her article, "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman," continued until she died; this collection contains all of the known letters written to her by Whitman. The collection also includes correspondence with her children and Whitman's 1869 letter to Michael William Rossetti, through whom he sent a first, indirect message Gilchrist. Literary correspondents include John Burroughs, William Sloane Kennedy, Bernard O'Dowd, Richard Maurice Bucke, Thomas Biggs Harned, Horace Traubel, Henry Bryan Binns, Mary Mapes Dodge, William Dean Howells, William Douglass O'Connor, and John Addington Symonds. Also represented in this series are letters to close friends and family, including Whitman's mother, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, and Susan and George Stafford.

The collection holds papers concerning Whitman's finances and dealings with publishers dating primarily from the 1880s, including letters concerning the 1881–82 edition of Leaves of Grass, which was published and then suppressed by James Osgood & Co. of Boston. The collection's holdings also include the correspondence and contract between Whitman and the Philadelphia publisher who picked up the censored edition, Rees Welsh & Co., notes and statements of account concerning works published by David McKay between 1882 and 1892, and documents concerning the proposed congressional bill to award Whitman a pension in recognition of his service during the Civil War.

The collection includes a small number of Whitman manuscripts, various proof sheets, and manuscript fragments. Writings about Whitman by his contemporaries include a draft of John Burroughs's introduction to the 1912 edition of The Rolling Earth, proofsheet excerpts of Burroughs's Notes on Walt Whitman, a notebook belonging to Herbert Gilchrist that records conversations with Whitman (1876), partial galley sheets (with notes) to William Sloane Kennedy's "A Study of Walt Whitman" (1881), and page proofs of Horace Traubel's "Walt Whitman's Birthday" (1891). There are a number of clippings, some gathered by Whitman himself, pertaining to the publication and suppression of the 1881–82 edition of Leaves of Grass.

Whitman portraits including photographs and reprints and original sketches are included in the collection, as are engravings and printed descriptions of Whitman's birthplace, the Long Island schoolhouse in which he taught, and his house on Mickle Street. Odds and ends include a ticket to Robert Ingersoll's 1890 lecture, Whitman's visiting card, and a lock of hair supposedly cut from Whitman's head upon his death by his housekeeper, Mary Davis.

E. Sculley Bradley (1919–1967), a professor of English and American Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, was instrumental in the University's acquiring this collection. With Gay Wilson Allen of New York University, Bradley oversaw the editing of The Collected Works of Walt Whitman. The contents of the Whitman manuscript collection no doubt were utilized by Bradley in the editing of these texts.

In this catalog, only the documents deemed poetry and prose manuscripts are described at the item level.

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

Whitman Archive Title: 'Going Somewhere.'
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00003
Box: 2
Folder: 53
Date: about 1887
Genre: poetry
Physical Description: 1 leaf, handwritten
View images: 1 | 2
Content: This is a manuscript of the poem, "'Going Somewhere,'" which was one of four poems published under the collective title "November Boughs," in Lippincott's Magazine in November 1887. "'Going Somewhere'" was later reprinted in the "Sands of Seventy" annex to the 1888 printing of Leaves of Grass.

Whitman Archive Title: Death of Abraham Lincoln
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00152
Box: 2
Folder: 64
Date: 1889-1890
Genre: prose
Physical Description: 1, handwritten
View images: 1 | 2
Content: This manuscript contains a passage that appears almost verbatim in "Walt Whitman's Last Public," included within the Memoranda section of Complete Prose Works published in 1892. In the piece, written in third person, Whitman describes the speech he gave on the 25th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death at the Art Rooms, in Philadelphia, on April 15, 1890, and the passage appearing in this manuscript is reported to be the literal opening address of the talk. We don't have certainty that this is true, though, as we do not have a written version of the talk. Some phrases in this version also bear resemblance with the printed version of the lecture "Death of Abraham Lincoln," delivered in New York in 1879, in Philadelphia in 1880 and in Boston in 1881 . Portions of this lecture were also originally published as "Abraham Lincoln's Death. Walt Whitman's Account of the Scene at Ford's Theatre", in the New York Sun on 12 February 1876 and were included in Memoranda During the War (1875-1876). "Abraham Lincoln's Death" was revised and published as "A Poet on the Platform" in the New York Daily Tribune on 15 April 1879 and was subsequently reprinted as "Death of Abraham Lincoln" in Specimen Days & Collect (1882-1883) before finally appearing in Complete Prose Works in 1892.

Whitman Archive Title: Henry D. Howell
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00153
Box: 2
Folder: 67
Repository Title: Henry D. Howell
Date: 1863
Genre: prose
Physical Description: 1 leaf, handwritten
View images: 1 | 2
Content: This manuscript contains notes on the story of a young soldier, Benjamin G. Howell, who died in the Civil War, and particularly about his parents learning about his death. Whitman would write about this same soldier in the article "From Washington" published in the Brooklyn Daily Union on September 22, 1863.

Whitman Archive Title: Poem for the good old cause
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00002
Box: 2
Folder: 56
Date: Between 1850 and 1871
Genre: poetry
Physical Description: 1 leaf, handwritten
View images: 1 | 2
Content: This manuscript includes ideas for two poems, one of which is titled "Poem for the good old cause." It is possible that this is a very early draft of the poem "To Thee Old Cause," which first appeared in the 1871 edition of Leaves of Grass. However, Whitman used the term "good old cause" as early as the 1855 edition, where it appears in the Preface. In the 1860–1861 edition the phrase also appears in the poem "To a Cantatrice" (eventually titled "To a Certain Cantatrice." It originated in England during the seventeenth century, shortly after the English Civil War, and was frequently used by Whitman (see Clarence Gohdes, "Whitman and the 'Good Old Cause,'" American Literature 34.3 [November 1962]: 400–403). Edward Grier notes that this manuscript likely was written prior to 1860 (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 4:1329). The titles of both of the proposed poems ("Poem of...") suggest the title format of the 1856 edition. It is unclear whether the second proposed poem, titled Poem of the People, ever led to a published work.

Whitman Archive Title: Robert Burns
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00158
Box: 2
Folder: 69
Repository Title: Robert Burns
Date: 1882
Genre: prose
Physical Description: 10 leaves, handwritten, printed
View images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
Content: This is a draft for the article entitled "Robert Burns" published on 16 December 1882 in The Critic. The draft contains annotated clippings from a previous article on Burns that Whitman had published on 25 January 1875 in Our Land and Time (the article was copied the same day in the New York Daily Graphic.) Parts of the previous 1875 article were used in the 1882 article. Later, Whitman revised the article again for publication in the North American Review in November 1886 under the title "Robert Burns as Poet and Person." The same title was kept for later versions published in November Boughs, Democratic Vistas and Other Papers in 1888; in Complete Poems & Prose in 1888 and in Complete Prose Works in 1891-1892. For more on this, see Gary Scharnhorst, "Whitman on Robert Burns: An Early Essay Recovered," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 13 (Spring 1996), 4.

Whitman Archive Title: [See there is Epicurus]
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00006
Box: 2
Folder: 58
Date: about 1857
Genre: poetry
Physical Description: 1 leaf, handwritten
Images: currently unavailable
Content: This manuscript includes three lines of poetry on a trimmed sheet of paper. This appears to be one of a group of manuscripts related to the poem, unpublished in Whitman's lifetime, with the manuscript title, "Pictures." Whitman used lines from "Pictures" for the poem "My Picture-Gallery," first published in Leaves of Grass (1881).

Whitman Archive Title: [after all]
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00001
Box: 2
Folder: 50
Date: between about 1855 and 1860
Genre: poetry
Physical Description: 1 leaf, handwritten
View images: 1 | 2
Content: This manuscript is written on a green sheet used for the endpapers of the first edition of the Leaves of Grass (1855), an edition that begins with a ten-page statement in prose, originally untitled and later known generally as the 1855 Preface. This manuscript seems to represent an early attempt by Whitman to recast the 1855 prose Preface into poetry. The 1860–61 edition of Leaves of Grass introduced two new poems created in this way: "Poem of Many in One" (later "By Blue Ontario's Shore") and "Poem of the Last Explanation of Prudence" (later "Song of Prudence"). Neither of the published poems incorporates lines from this manuscript, though it and "Song of Prudence" are drawn from adjacent portions of the 1855 Preface.

Whitman Archive Title: [are you and me] [Sanity and ensemble characterise the great master]
Whitman Archive ID: upa.00005
Box: 2
Folder: 57
Date: about 1856
Genre: poetry
Physical Description: 1 leaf, handwritten
View images: 1 | 2
Content: On one side of the leaf are fourteen lines related to the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass. The writing probably represents one of Whitman's attempts to reshape material from the Preface into poems for the 1856 edition. These include "Poem of Perfect Miracles" (later Miracles), "Poem of Many in One" (later "By Blue Ontario's Shore"), and "Poem of the Last Explanation of Prudence" (later "Song of Prudence"). None of these poems, however, bear obvious similarities to the lines on this side of the manuscript. On the reverse side of the leaf is a partial draft, about twenty lines, of "By Blue Ontario's Shore." Much of the material had appeared in the 1855 Preface.

Restrictions on Original Materials: Please consult with Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania.

Preferred Citation:  To identify this finding aid as a source, see the Archive's "Conditions of Use" page.

Repository Contact Information:

Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206


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