Saturday, April 30, 2011
It is fitting that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced during Poetry Month that Kenneth Price, professor at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln and co-editor of the Walt Whitman Archive, had conclusively identified nearly 3,000 documents as the work--at least in part--of Walt Whitman. Whitman lived in Washington, D.C. from 1863 to 1873, and was employed variously as a government clerk, copyist, and scribe in offices of the Army Paymaster, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Attorney General. The exact nature of Whitman's intellectual contributions to these documents will require further study and elaboration, but the documents nonetheless represent an important new archival facet in the life of one of America's greatest poets.
Further resources on Whitman are available at the Walt Whitman Archive, and at the Library of Congress, which has the largest Whitman archives in the world (a guide is available online). A portrait of Whitman as an older man, as well as a link to an online version of his Leaves of Grass (1855), can be found at an earlier Common Curator posting.