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Walt Whitman Primary Sources

Historical documents. What clues can you gather about Walt Whitman, the time, place, players, and culture?

Leaves of Grass

A 1900 edition of Whitman's opus.

"Song of Myself"

The signature poem of Leaves of Grass, which appeared in every edition from 1855 onward.

"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

The poem celebrating Whitman's birth as a poet.

"I Sing the Body Electric"

An example of Whitman's celebration of the human body in verse.

"When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom'd"

Whitman's poem in tribute to slain President Abraham Lincoln.

"When I Heard the Learned Astronomer"

One of Whitman's shortest, sweetest poems.

"A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads"

An essay by Whitman reflecting on the history of his career.

"As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life"

An 1881 poem Whitman published in The Atlantic.


The collection of Whitman's notebooks at the Library of Congress.


A look at the notations Whitman made to his poems.

Contemporary Review

An 1882 review of Leaves of Grass in The Atlantic.

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