Wordsmithing Whitman: Diaries and Notebooks from the Feinberg-Whitman Papers

Asha Bajaj
5 min readMay 26, 2021

#Washington; #LibraryOfCongress; #WaltWhitman

​Washington/Canadian-Media: Library of Congress (LoC)’s By the People launched May 26 a new project Whitman campaign in honor of Walt Whitman’s May birthday, focusing on the diaries and notebooks in the Manuscript Division’s Charles E. Feinberg Collection of Walt Whitman Papers, LoC reported.

Walt Whitman. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

​By the People is an online transcription platform where anyone with an internet connection can transcribe documents from Library of Congress digitized collections. Everyone is welcome to contribute to this crowdsourcing project including members of the public, non-specialists, and specialists alike, to help make data more usable and discoverable.

A journalist, essayist, autobiographical and freelance writer, critic, and poet, Whitman carried small and often hand-made notebooks with him most places he went to note everything under the sun and made them into creative assemblages of his thoughts, observations, and miscellany.

​Containing names and places, the notebooks provide evidence of Whitman’s thoughts on politics and politicians, the natural sciences and the organic composition of the soil beneath our feet, and the nature of time, death, and eternity.

“The Insects.” The idea of a poem. Whitman notebook of government, nature, trial lines, and self-advice, c. 1855–56. Feinberg-Whitman Papers, Manuscript Division.

Whitman wrote in his notebooks about what His observations while on the streets of Washington during the Civil War were transcribed to his notebooks including the hotels, recently enslaved persons classified in property terms as “contraband” walking up wartime Fourteenth Street, Union soldiers waiting for their pay.

Besides compassionately describing the severity of the conditions of the patients he met while volunteering in Civil War hospital wards, he also sketched scenarios of the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the haze of campfires during his visit to the Union army encampments at Culpeper, of the sun setting behind the U.S…

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Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women