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Collection Number: 12010

Collection Title: Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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Size 18 items
Abstract Walt Whitman was born on 31 May 1819, at West Hills, Long Island, N.Y. From 1830-1846, Whitman served variously as office boy, printer's devil, schoolteacher, typesetter, and journalist. He published his volume of verse Leaves of Grass in 1855. In January 1873, he suffered a stroke of paralysis from which he never completely recovered. Whitman died in Camden, N.J., on 26 March 1892. The collection includes one manuscript version each of ten poems or fragments of poems, one manuscript version each of four fragments of prose pieces, three galley proofs, and one direction to the printer, all by Walt Whitman and almost all related to material published in November Boughs (1888). There is also one copy of November Boughs, first edition, inscribed on flyleaf by Thomas B. Harned, one of Whitman's literary executors. Most of the manuscripts are working drafts with revisions.
Creator Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Walt Whitman Papers #12010, Rare Book Literary and Historical Papers, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from Christies, New York, N.Y., in March 1981.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Walt Whitman was born on 31 May 1819, at West Hills, Long Island, N.Y. From 1830-1846, Whitman served variously as office boy, printer's devil, schoolteacher, typesetter, and journalist. He published his volume of verse Leaves of Grass in 1855. In January 1873, he suffered a stroke of paralysis from which he never completely recovered. Whitman died in Camden, NJ, on 26 March 1892.

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Upon receipt of this material in the Rare Book Literary and Historical Papers, the manuscripts were removed from the copy of November Boughs and filed in folders, one item per folder. Copies of the manuscripts were then inserted in the book to simulate the arrangement of the material as received.

The manuscripts have been arranged in the order in which they were tipped into the book. Some have writing on the verso, in some cases by Whitman, in others by his correspondents.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888.

Folder 1

Manuscript version of a fragment of a poem beginning "Land of the potent-large!" This poem was not included in November Boughs. The title November Boughs and three unused variants of the subtitle of the book are written on the verso. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 1

Folder 2

Proof (with additions and corrections) of the prose piece "A Backward Glance on My Own Road," for The Critic, 5 January 1884. Included are brief rough notes toward "Robert Burns as Poet and Person." (Oversize.) #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 2

Folder 3

Manuscript version of "Paumanok." Included is a letter to Whitman from Robert Pearsall Smith, 13 February 1888. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 3

Folder 4

Proof (with a brief handwritten note) of "A Carol Closing Sixty-Nine." #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 4

Folder 5

Manuscript version of "A Font of Type." Included are small fragments of what apparently were two letters to Whitman, writers unidentified, one with the letterhead of the Nebraska Press, Nebraska City, Neb. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 5

Folder 6

Manuscript version of "My Canary Bird." #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 6

Folder 7

Manuscript version of "Out of May's Shows Selected." On the verso is Whitman's address and a postmark, 5 May 1888. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 7

Folder 8

Manuscript version of "With Husky-Haughty Lips, O Sea!" On the verso of this item, composed physically of five pieces of paper joined together, are Whitman's address; a Dresden, Germany, postmark; and a piece of letterhead from Ocean Grove, N.J. (Oversize) #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 8

Folder 9

Manuscript version of "True Conquerors." #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 9

Folder 10

Manuscript version of "The United States to Old World Critics." On the verso is a letter to Whitman from Mary Smith Costelloe, Westminster Embankment, London, 25 April 1888. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 10

Folder 11

Manuscript version of "While Not the Past Forgetting." #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 11

Folder 12

Manuscript directions to the printer regarding page 37 of November Boughs. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 12

Folder 13

Manuscript version of "An Evening Lull." On the verso is the address of Laura G. Levy, New York, N.Y. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 13

Folder 14

Manuscript version of the footnote on page 37 of November Boughs. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 14

Folder 15

roof of "After the Supper and Talk" and "The Dismantled Ship." #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 15

Folder 16

Manuscript version of a part of "Elias Hicks" ( November Boughs, page 119). Included is the conclusion of a letter from James R. Osgood and Company. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 16

Folder 17

Manuscript version of a part of "Elias Hicks" ( November Boughs, page 127). #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 17

Folder 18

November Boughs, 1888. #12010, Series: "Walt Whitman Papers, 1884-1888. " Folder 18

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Processing Information

Processed by: Tim West, May 1981; Revised by Suzanne Ruffing May 1996

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This collection was processed with support, in part, from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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