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Archives > MS 19 - Walt Whitman Collection

Walt Whitman Collection
1842-1982
[bulk 1955-1978]
MS 19

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Whitman, Walt
Title: Walt Whitman Collection
Dates: 1842-1982
Abstract: This collection consists of items related to the person of Walt Whitman, his work, and his influence upon American culture and poetry.
Quantity: 4 cubic feet (2 boxes, including 107 items)

History of the Author

Widely considered the most influential and innovative poet of America, Walt Whitman was born in West Hills, a village near Hempstead, Long Island, on May 31, 1819 to Walter and Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. His father had been born just after the end of the American Revolution and had known and admired Thomas Paine. Walt Whitman was, thus, part of the first generation of Americans who were born in the newly formed United States. Pride in the emergent nation was rampant, and Walter, Sr. -- after giving his first son, Jesse (born in 1818), his own father's name, his second son his own name, his daughter Mary (born in 1822) the name of his wife's grandmother, and his daughter Hannah (born in 1823) the name of his own mother -- turned to heroes of the Revolution and the War of 1812 for the names of three of his other sons: Andrew Jackson (born in 1827), George Washington (born in 1829), and Thomas Jefferson (born in 1833). Only the youngest son, Edward (born in 1835), who was mentally and physically handicapped, carried a name that tied him to neither the family's nor the country's history. Born into a family with both Dutch and English ancestry, young Walt was influenced by various cultures, including those of a budding nation. His father was a farm laborer who did not have much of an education. His mother bore several children on the land, but due to financial crises, the family ended up selling most of their property. They then moved to Brooklyn, where Walt's father built houses for other laborers. At the age of 12, Walt was interested in publishing and printing. He worked in Brooklyn and in the heart of New York City, where he became a journalist. By the young age of 23, he began editing daily newspapers in New York -- a post that would not have come about had he not possessed a natural talent in the field. Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass at his own expense due to his inability to find a publisher. When Ralph Waldo Emerson caught a hold of it and praised the book, publishers started taking notice. Later, a Boston publisher published his prose but due to the Civil War, the company went bankrupt. Walt Whitman suffered a minor stroke in the early 1870s due to the stress caused by what many called his own sexual uncertainty. Following the death of his mother, Whitman stayed with his brother in New Jersey. During this time, Walt was always updating, reorganizing, and adding to Leaves of Grass. The author compares his semi-authobiographical account of nature, love, and war to a cathedral that is continuously being built -- a masterpiece that could take several decades to master. With the ninth and most successful publication of his poetic verse, Walt Whitman gained immense popularity in Europe and across America. One of his notable admirers with whom he shared correspondence was Oglethorpe University Alumni Sidney Lanier. Whitman claimed that in his work, his goal was to capture the American spirit and show what an ideal nation America could be. His words are seen as something more than art or a book, but a collection of visionary verse. He died on March 26, 1892 in Camden, New Jersey.

Administrative History

This collection consists of items related to the person of Walt Whitman, his work, and his influence upon American culture and poetry. Items include biographical notes, pamphlets, Long-Islander articles, magazines, newspaper clippings, original work and correspondence, publishers' new release notifications, scholarly journals, books, and a selection from an unpublished manuscript. Included also are artifacts and photographs depicting his likeness, including photographs and portraits, a commemorative medallion from the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, and a bust.

 

Arrangement

This collection is arranged by medium, sub-arranged by medium sub-type, and ordered chronologically. These records are organized into the following sections: Periodicals (1865-1979); Original Work & Correspondence (1848-1957); Biographical Essays; Books (1842-1982); Artifacts.

Periodicals: 1865-1979 - Arranged by medium sub-type and ordered chronologically. Media/Periodicals contain clippings and articles as well as publications in their entirety. All items pertain to the life, work, and/or influence of Walt Whitman. Book Reviews analyze and critique his poetry, journal articles provide scholarly insight, and popular magazines offer a glimpse into the impression that the poet made upon the general pop culture. Earlier items are in fragile or deteriorating condition.

Original work and correspondence: 1848-1957 - arranged chronologically. It contains unbound items pertaining to the original work of Walt Whitman and selected correspondence between Whitman and Sidney Lanier.

The Biographical Essays are arranged alphabetically by author and contain unpublished biographical efforts pertaining to the life of Walt Whitman as well as a published biographical essay from an edition of Leaves of Grass.

Books: 1842-1982 - Arranged chronologically and include a collection of analytical works pertaining to Whitman as well as early editions of Leaves of Grass and other original publications.

Artifacts are arranged by medium and include commemorative memorabilia, photographs, unpublished work, and a bust in Whitman’s likeness.

The manuscript holdings of the Oglethorpe University Archives contain a number of related collections, including the records of Sidney Lanier, a poetic contemporary and Oglethorpe University Alumni.

 

Description

This collection is arranged by medium, sub-arranged by medium sub-type, and ordered chronologically. Items include biographical notes, pamphlets, Long-Islander articles, magazines, newspaper clippings, original work and correspondence, publishers' new release notifications, scholarly journals, books, and a selection from an unpublished manuscript. Included also are artifacts and photographs depicting his likeness, including photographs and portraits, a commemorative medallion from the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, and a bust.

 

Restrictions

None.

 

Subject Headings

Bucke, Richard Maurice, 1837-1902

Updike, John, 1937-

Lanier, Sidney, 1842-1881

Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892

Free Verse

United States History Civil War, 1861-1865, Literature and the war

Camden (NJ)

Long Island (New York, NY)

Leaves of Grass (Musicals)

 

Folder List

Box 1

Folder 1. Long-Islander Walt Whitman Page (1959-1974)

Folder 2. Magazine Articles (1923-1977)

Folder 3. Newspaper Clippings (1918-1979)

Folder 4. Leaves of Grass Musical (1971)

Folder 5. Publishers’ New Releases

Box 2

Folder 1. Scholarly Journals (1919-1969)

Folder 2. Original Work & Correspondence (1848-1957)

Folder 3. Biographical Essays

Folder 4. Books (1842-1982)

Folder 5. Artifacts, including commemorative memorabilia, photographs, unpublished work, and a bust in Whitman’s likeness

 

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation:

Please cite Walt Whitman Collection, MS 19, Archives, Philip Weltner Library, Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, Georgia. Permission to publish from this collection must be approved in writing by the Director of the Library, Oglethorpe University.

 

Processing Information

Processed by Travis A. Kirspel, February 2008

 

 

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