In Whitman's Hand

Annotations and Marginalia

Walt Whitman was an extensive reader, and like many of us, he kept notes—in the margins, on scraps of paper, and in notebooks—about his reading. This section of the Archive offers a growing collection of such documents written and drawn upon by America's most famous poet.

The following links will take you to a series of other resources related to Whitman's reading and note-taking:

A special section of the marginalia material is dedicated to Whitman's cultural geography scrapbook, linked above. Both the scrapbook and the marginalia documents in general present a heterogeneous collection of materials and topics, and users may wonder where to start in exploring these items. We have therefore created a series of curated exhibits that highlight prevalant themes and potential research topics in these materials.

From classical rhetoric to the poetry of Tennyson, from Persian mysticism to nineteenth-century phrenological journals, the influences on Whitman's work were historically deep and culturally diverse. With support from the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program at the National Endowment for the Humanities, we have catalogued and begun to make freely available in digital form documents with significant annotations that are identifiably in Whitman's hand. We have focused on Whitman's notes that comment on other writers' works, whether "annotations" (i.e. notes entirely in manuscript) or "marginalia" (i.e. manuscript notes in the margins of a printed text by another author, such as a book or clipping from a periodical). Drafts leading to Whitman's original compositions, whether poetry or prose, are treated in other sections of the Archive.

The documents are grouped according to whether they are annotations or marginalia. In most cases, the only pages transcribed are those that include notes in Whitman's hand. In the case of documents listed as marginalia, the title reflects the title of the base document, where possible. When this information is not known, the title of the document is based on the first several words of Whitman's notes on the page. All annotations document titles are based on the first several words on the page. Where we use colors in the display to represent textual features like writing in Whitman's hand or pasted-on text, we provide a color key in the document metadata. Because Whitman at times made marks on running heads and other common print features, we have preserved them in our transcriptions in this section of the Archive. Since it can be difficult to determine whether Whitman was responsible for underlining or bracketing, we have described such marks as "highlighting." For further discussion of editorial decisions related to the marginalia and annotations, see our statement of editorial policy.

In this index we have included "not before" and "not after" dates to give a general estimate of when the marginalia or annotations were written. Since most of Whitman's marginalia and annotations are undated, this range is often necessarily speculative. For further specificity and explanation of the date associated with any marginalia or annotations, see the dates and editorial notes in the metadata sections at the top of the individual transcription files. To sort the index list by title or by date, click the "Title" or "Date" headings at the top of the columns.

Viewing all documents (141)


A Defence of the Christian Doctrines of the Society of Friends18381892
Addison's Ode to Deity18381891
Tomb of the Martyrs18411891
The History of Long Island18431892
Longfellow's Poets and Poetry of Europe18461892
Robert Southey18471892
Christopher under Canvass18491892
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers18491892
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers18491892
Report of the Special Committee18491892
The Vanity and the Glory of Literature18491892
The Slavonians and Eastern Europe18491892
Early Roman History18501860
Cultural Geography Scrapbook18501860
Robert Chambers18501860
Lessing's Laocoön18511892
A Sermon Preached in the Central Reformed Protestant Dutch Church18511892
Modern English Poets18511892
Imagination and Fact18521892
Ascent of Mount Popocatapetl18541892
The Indians in American Art18561892
Mountain-visiting in East Tennessee18571860
The Fair Pilot of Loch Uribol18721892
Mrs. Siddons as Lady Macbeth18781892
The Poet Laureate as Philosopher and Peer18841892
The Tragedies of Euripedes18891889
The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires18901892
Typical American Canoes at the Annual Meet in Peconic Bay18901892


good statement18191892
With all Macpherson's restorations18351892
Edmund Spenser: born about 1553—died 1599.18351892
Memory.—Nothing makes this faculty18351892
The mountain‑ash18351892
The Social Contract18371892
The idea (illustrated by Kant)18371892
No patriotism18381892
Egyptian religion18381892
the story of Dantes "Journey Through Hell"18381892
Make a piece18381892
Long Island18381892
New Amsterdam18381892
Hans Sachs18381892
Author of the Neibelungen Leid18381892
Poverty is also added18391892
Richter born 1763 died 182518401892
Richard Burbage18401892
He dates the origin of mankind18401892
Of Insanity18401892
name of New York City18411892
Mithras, the grand deity18451892
An Ossianic Paragraph18461892
He is a precursor18471892
Principal products18471892
The English Circle18471891
More about William Blake18471891
Anacreon's Midnight Visitor18471891
Diderot (Dennis Diderot)18491892
Wednesday Evening, June 1018501860
Poem among the Siamese18501860
Europe bounded18501860
lux light18501860
Africa (The Equator18501856
The Teutonic includes18501860
(Independent & Chinese)18501860
How would it do18501860
Tacitus—of the Germans18501860
Spinal idea of a Lesson18501860
American Institute Farmers Club18501860
Fourier and His Ideas.18501860
This list of one week's18501860
Prophecy that soon the Atlantic18501860
The English Masses18501860
Settlers and Indian Battles18501860
we know of no beginning18501860
? Gases18501860
Abrahams visit to Egypt18501860
Salt works18501860
His earliest printed plays18501893
America has been called18501859
Rousseau's Confessions18501892
The Nibelungen18501892
Henry 8th18501892
"Church" article18501892
Niembsch Lenau18501892
Even now Jasmund18501892
The florid rich18501892
Scythia (as Used by the Greeks)18501860
Dryden 1631 to 170118531892
Lafontaine, born about 162118531892
Our own account of this poem, "the German Iliad"18541892
Frederick Schlegel 1772–182918541892
The celebrated old German poem18541892
Barthold Niebuhr18541892
Immortality was realized18541892
1854 Alexander Smith's poems18541892
Assyria & Egypt18551860
Russian serfs18551860
What are inextricable from the British poets18551892
1855—I have looked over Gerald Massey's Poems18551892
Goethe—from about 175018551892
Comparison between Homer's Iliad18551892
British in China18551892
the town of Borgo18551892
Louis 14th, born 163818551892
Goethe's Complete works18561892
Specimen Days Grisi and Mario18561892
A poem theme Be happy18561892
Oliver Goldsmith18571857
Frances Wright18571892
Brutish human beings18571858
Dates referring to China18571857
Torquato Tasso18591892
Abraham Lincoln18651865
Mem. The Saturday18671891
The Oregonese18701891
Elias Hicks Contemporaries18701891
for Mulleins18761876
Walt Whitman Sarnia18801880
earliest spring wild flowers18811892
Montaigne says18831891
More Books18841892
73 Specimen Days18841892
Don't forget the Lincoln Essay18851892
Of all the western stars18851892
Carlyle's words18881891
Louis XIV18891889
Old Fellows18891891
track gangs18901893
Books of WW18901892


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