Walt Whitman Archive

Holding Repository

Hide Profile

The Walt Whitman Archive is an electronic research and teaching tool that sets out to make Whitman's vast work, for the first time, easily and conveniently accessible to scholars, students, and general readers. Whitman, America's most influential poet and one of the four or five most innovative and significant writers in United States history, is the most challenging of all American authors in terms of the textual difficulties his work presents. He left behind an enormous amount of written material, and his major life work, Leaves of Grass, went through six very different editions, each of which was issued in a number of formats, creating a book that is probably best studied as numerous distinct creations rather than as a single revised work. His many notebooks, manuscript fragments, prose essays, letters, and voluminous journalistic articles all offer key cultural and biographical contexts for his poetry. The Whitman Archive sets out to incorporate as much of this material as possible, drawing on the resources of libraries and collections from around the United States and around the world. The Whitman Archive is directed by Kenneth M. Price (University of Nebraska–Lincoln) and Ed Folsom (University of Iowa).

Digital versions of all six editions of Leaves of Grass are accessible on the Whitman Archive. Also available is an extended biography of Whitman, written by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. All known contemporary reviews of Whitman's work are currently available, as are all known photographs of Whitman, complete with annotations. Introductions to each edition of Leaves and other entries from Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, edited by J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, are available through an agreement with Garland Publishing Company. And, in conjunction with the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, we offer an up-to-date bibliography of books, essays, notes, and reviews about Whitman; this is the only comprehensive current bibliography of work about Whitman.

The Whitman Archive provides access to a growing number of Whitman's notebooks and literary manuscripts, as well as a large and growing body of letters. These include both the first complete record of the poet's personal correspondence—both incoming and outgoing—and the letters written in Whitman's hand during his years as a clerk in Attorney General's office. With support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (2008–2018), the Whitman Archive offers much of Whitman's Civil War, Reconstruction, post-Reconstruction, and old-age correspondence, as well as the approximately 3,000 scribal documents Whitman produced between 1865 and 1873.

Recent work on the Whitman Archive has also focused new light on how Whitman transformed himself from a good journalist and a middling writer of fiction into an extraordinary poet. NEH funding (2013–2016) supported "Whitman as an Author before Leaves of Grass," a project to digitize Whitman's pre-1855 journalism, fiction, prose, and notebooks. From 2017 to 2020, NEH is also funding work on an edition of the 1855 Leaves of Grass that includes manuscript antecedents and printed variants.

From 1995 until 2007 the Whitman Archive operated under the aegis of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at the University of Virginia. In 2007, the Whitman Archive moved from a server at IATH to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where it is one of the projects sponsored by the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. The Whitman Archive has enjoyed formal grant-based partnerships with libraries at Duke University, the New York Public Library, the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Brown University, and the University of Virginia. A great many other libraries have cooperated with the Whitman Archive in ways both large and small, including the Library of Congress, the William R. Perkins Library at Duke University, and the Albert H. Small Special Collections Library of University of Virginia.

The Whitman Archive has received crucial support from a number of institutions, including the University of Iowa, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, University of Virginia, University of Texas at Austin, Duke University, Kent State University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and the College of William & Mary. Grant support has been provided by the U. S. Department of Education and its Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Cooper Foundation, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
Place Name Admin Code Country
Literature 19th century

Corporate Body

Active 1995


Spanish; Castilian,







Related Descriptions

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6zh7g8q

Ark ID: w6zh7g8q

SNAC ID: 83576477