The installment of nearly 100 scribal documents added to the Whitman Archive in June 2013 brings to a close the first phase of the Archive's work with the pieces Whitman produced as a clerk in the Attorney General's office from 1865–1873. From December 2011 to June 2013, we've published roughly 3,000 of these documents—all of them letters—as part of the NHPRC-sponsored project "Walt Whitman and Reconstruction." In the future, Archive staff aim to add another approximately 400 documents on which Whitman collaborated while in the Attorney General's office. These documents include letters in the hand of another clerk for which Whitman has provided short marginal annotations, apparently for indexing purposes, as well as summaries of legal cases and office notes in Whitman's hand, such as the "Memorandum of Examination of Nott & Co's Claim—with order," from February 1869. We would like to provide annotations for all of the scribal documents and possibly enrich the encoding of them, though it is not yet clear when we will have the time and resources to reach these goals.
NHPRC support has helped us add 450 scribal documents to the Archive, bringing the total to nearly 3,000.
With the support of the Obermann Center at the University of Iowa, we've revised and expanded the Translations section of the Archive, which now includes more than thirty versions of Whitman's "Poets to Come" in five languages, as well as original translations of "Chants Democratic 14" from the 1860 Leaves. To learn more about the "Poets to Come" project, visit the Translations page and read Ed Folsom's "Translating 'Poets to Come': An Introduction."
The addition of this new material coincides with other changes to the architecture and arrangement of the Archive. Notably, the new section, Translations, replaces the Editions Printed Outside the U.S. section, which previously included full-length translations of Whitman as well as British editions. The British editions are now available via the new Books by Whitman section of the Archive. This change is one of several to Published Works, which formerly included sections for Leaves of Grass, other books by Whitman, periodicals, and editions of Whitman published outside the United States. The revamped Published Works now includes Books by Whitman, Periodicals, and Translations. In the coming months, we will continue to work with the Books by Whitman section to improve navigation through the materials.
All volumes of Horace Traubel's With Walt Whitman in Camden are now available. We've also added page images of Leaves of Grass Imprints and PDFs of 19 books from the University of Iowa Press Whitman series.
The first installment of Whitman's Civil War journalism is now available.
We've published more than 250 letters from the Reconstruction years. Whitman's complete two-way correspondence of the period will be available in the fall. The publication of these letters was made possible by the support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Update: Nearly 450 letters are now available (May 21, 2012).
New Civil War notebooks added: visits to hospitals, stories from soldiers, and the Grand Review of the Union army.
Great news! The Whitman Archive has been awarded a $275,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create item-level finding guides to the nearly seventy individual repositories holding Whitman’s prose manuscripts. We will attach to each description high-quality digital images for all the prose manuscripts. We have developed a system of identification which will embed in a union finding aid the relationships between Whitman's prose manuscripts and the conceptual "work" they contribute to: for example, the final manifestation of the prose draft, most often the version Whitman published in his final collection, Complete Prose Works (1892). With this system, we will create an overarching guide to a virtual collection of all of Whitman's manuscripts, organized not around their physical location but according to the conceptual "work" that they contribute to. A fragment of a manuscript at Duke University about Whitman's memories of Lincoln will be visible in its connections to his Memoranda During the War, as well as to all the other related manuscripts at other repositories. When coupled with the Whitman Archive's similarly organized and award-winning guides to Whitman's poetry manuscripts, this project will provide unprecedented documentation of and access to the literary manuscripts of a major literary figure.
We've added more than 1,100 new items to the Scribal Documents section of the Archive, bringing the total number of documents available there to nearly 2,000. In the near future, look for other new content, including Reconstruction-era correspondence and Civil War journalism, notebooks, and prose manuscripts.
Over the next few months, the Whitman Archive will expand dramatically: we will add more than 2,000 previously unidentified government documents in Whitman's handwriting, 600 pieces of personal correspondence from the Reconstruction period, and an array of materials—prose manuscripts, notebooks, and journalism—completed as part of the NEH-funded project, "Walt Whitman's Civil War Writings." We will also reorganize and add new content to the translations section of the Archive (currently titled "Editions Printed Outside the U.S."). As we roll out this new content, we will make updates to the Archive homepage. Users will notice revised section heads, new organization, and links to additional content. These changes will affect other pages of the Archive as well—primarily the index pages to different parts of the site. These pages, too, will have new names and new content. For example, as part of the publication of the first 800 scribal documents on the Archive, we have renamed the Manuscripts section of the Archive "In Whitman's Hand." This new name carries through to the index page for this section, where users can access the full range of content grouped under the "In Whitman's Hand" category. In anticipation of upcoming changes, we have also started reorganizing content on the home page. We have, for example, moved the finding aids to Whitman's manuscript materials to the Resources section of Archive. As we continue to make changes to the home page and to add content, we will keep users informed here and on the Archive's change-log.
Matt Cohen, Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, has received an NEH grant for his project "Walt Whitman's Annotations." As described in the grant application, this project will "preserve and give free public electronic access to Walt Whitman's manuscript annotations. This hitherto uncollected and largely unpublished set of extraordinarily diverse and sophisticated documents shows Americas most famous poet in-the-making. From classical writings to Tennyson, from Persian poets to phrenological journals, the influences on Whitman's work were manifold. For the first time, students, scholars, and casual readers will be able to explore the fertile ground of Whitman's self-education, through his reactions to the literature, history, science, theology, and art of his time. Whitman's reactions range from the caustic to the puzzled to the awestruck, and take the form of everything from simply underlining significant passages to full-length expository responses."
Cohen continues, "While electronically gathering, preserving, and making freely available these documents would alone be a tremendous step forward, we are in the position to do much more. First, the context of the Walt Whitman Archive gives us the power to link these annotated documents to later ones they influenced. Second, we will publish a database of Whitman's reading—a kind of virtual library of one of the worlds most important literary figures. And finally, using a customized search engine and the interface we created under the start-up grant, we will offer analytical tools for users of the archive that will help researchers shed new light on Whitman's writing in the broad context of nineteenth-century literature and culture."
Page images of the New York Aurora, a newspaper Whitman edited in early 1842, are now available.
Great news! The Archive has been awarded a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to continue its work on Whitman's correspondence from the end of the Civil War through Reconstruction.
The Civil War correspondence of Whitman is now available. In editing more than 600 letters, the Whitman Archive has created the first two-way correspondence treating these key years in Whitman's life. Thanks go to the NHPRC for support of this work.
Hans Reisiger's German translation of selected poetry and prose by Whitman has been added to the Archive's foreign editions section.
Images of Whitman's Blue Book have recently been added to the site and are available here. The Blue Book is Whitman's personal—and very heavily revised—copy of the third edition of Leaves of Grass. This is the book that cost Whitman his government job in 1865. For more on that controversy, see William Douglas O'Connor's "The Good Gray Poet".
Great news! The Archive meets its fundraising goal for the NEH challenge grant. Thanks to all contributors.
The Archive has recently received grants to edit Walt Whitman's Civil War Writings. Funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) will support editorial work on Whitman's incoming and outgoing correspondence. Funding from the NEH will support editorial work on Whitman's Civil War notebooks, daybooks, literary essays, journalism, poetry manuscripts, and his so-called Blue Book (a personally annotated copy of Leaves of Grass that cost him his government job). Ken Price has received an ACLS Digital Innovation Award to support his role in these editorial efforts.
The reviews newly added to the site are reprinted from a recent issue of Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. These reviews span the entire range of Whitman's poetic career, from his temperance novel Franklin Evans (1842) to the so-called deathbed edition of Leaves of Grass (1891-1892). These reviews represent the views of critics on both sides of the Atlantic (and include Irish and Scottish perspectives). The reviews treat a wide range of Whitman's publications, addressing every edition and the so-called deathbed printing of Leaves of Grass, as well as "A Child's Reminiscence," As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free, Two Rivulets, Memoranda during the War, November Boughs, Good-Bye My Fancy, William Michael Rossetti's 1868 British edition (Poems by Walt Whitman), and Ernest Rhys's 1886 British edition (Leaves of Grass: The Poems of Walt Whitman).
We've now been more than five years in phase two of the Archive, 2000-2006, and again arguments for a redesign are becoming compelling. The reason for even considering a redesign boils down to the problems associated with frame-based layouts. In the current view, one of our typical pages is actually made up of four distinct frames. Three of the frames are stable, allowing the navigation bar to remain in one constant place on the screen as the text scrolls down. But there are disadvantages to this design. Printing is a problem since a printer ordinarily will print a sheet for each frame. Searching is an even bigger problem: a person who uses an internet search engine to find, say, Pfaff's at the Whitman Archive will get our online biography but without any of the three "stable" frames, so the page is shorn of the navigation bar and all obvious indications that the person is even at the Whitman Archive.
Most of these problems have been resolved through the use of CSS-based layout, which is becoming a more common way for large web sites to deal with similar display issues. Each page will print more easily, have a unique and visible URL, and will overall be more easily navigable. It is important to move our design forward with technology standards and tastes to keep current.
The Whitman Archive has been fortunate to receive a great deal of positive publicity. Wai Chee Dimock recently remarked: “The Walt Whitman Archive is not just chronicling literary history of the past; it is making literary history at this very moment—a history of variants, each speaking to its particular locale, a continuum of 'exaptation' that might well resemble the evolution and adaptation of biological species” (PMLA October 2007). And William Pannapacker and Paul Crumbley in the current volume of American Literary Scholarship, indicate that the Archive “may be the most important editorial undertaking in the history of Whitman studies.” The Archive has also received very positive notice recently in publications like The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Scholar.
The Society of American Archivists has awarded the Walt Whitman Archive the prestigious C.F.W. Coker Award, based on the IMLS-funded Integrated Guide to the Dispersed Manuscripts of Walt Whitman. Kay Walter and Ken Price co-directed the grant; other participants from UNL were: Mary Ellen Ducey, Brian Pytlik Zillig, Andrew Jewell, Brett Barney and various graduate students.
We are delighted to announce that the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has been offered a $500,000 "We the People" NEH challenge grant to support the building of a permanent endowment for the Walt Whitman Archive. The grant carries a 3 to 1 matching requirement, and thus we need to raise $1.5 million dollars in order to receive the NEH funds. Building an endowment will allow us to retain key staff and will enable the work of the Archive to continue.
Read more at the Support page.