Life & Letters


In this section, the Whitman Archive offers a growing amount of correspondence. We are gathering, transcribing, and encoding documents so as to compile the first complete record of Whitman's personal correspondence, both incoming and outgoing. In 2010, with generous support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) we made available Whitman's Civil War correspondence. We are now in the process of editing and publishing Whitman's two-way correspondence from the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction years, also with NHPRC support. All letters from the Civil War period are currently available, and approximately half of the Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction era letters are now available. Users interested primarily in Whitman's Civil War correspondence or only those letters from the Reconstruction or Post-Reconstruction eras can choose to see only letters from those years via the provided links. We have also provided a list of all letters currently available for the period 1860–1887, so that users can proceed through the letters without regard to these imposed boundaries. By default, the letters are listed in chronological order. Users have the option to sort the letters by both sender and recipient, or search the text and XML-encoding of the documents to return relevant results. For more information on the transcription and encoding of these diverse materials, please see our statement of editorial policy.

In addition to the annotations available for many of the letters, several introductions to correspondence of Whitman family members provide extensive context for reading the letters to and from Walt Whitman. These include:

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