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[Walt Whitman, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left]


[Walt Whitman, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left]



Photograph by Mathew Brady(?).
Saunders, no. 27
Forms part of: Feinberg-Whitman Collection (Library of Congress).
Exhibited: "Distance Avails Not: Walt Whitman at 200", Literary and Historical Manuscripts, at The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, June 14, 2019 - September 15, 2019.

Mathew Brady (1823-1896) was one of the most prolific photographers of the nineteenth century, creating a visual documentation of the Civil War period (1860-1865). During the Civil War, Brady and his associates traveled throughout the eastern part of the country, capturing the effects of the War through photographs of people, towns, and battlefields. Additionally, Brady kept studios in Washington, DC and New York City, where many influential politicians and war heroes sat for portraits. The U.S. National Archives has digitized over 6,000 images from the series Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes (National Archives's Local Identifier 111-B) and included them in our online catalog. The U.S. National Archives was established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, but its major holdings date back to 1775. The National Archives keeps only those Federal records that are judged to have continuing value -- about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. By now, they add up to a formidable number, diverse in form as well as in content. In addition to the photographs and graphic images described above, there are approximately 9 billion pages of textual records; 7.2 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings; billions of machine-readable data sets; and more than 365,000 reels of film and 110,000 videotapes. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens.

"I CELEBRATE myself And what I assume you shall assume For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you I loafe and invite my soul I lean and loafe at my ease....observing a spear of summer grass." With these lines, an unknown poet, Walt Whitman introduced himself. In 1855, at his own expense, he published a book called Leaves of Grass. Of the 795 copies printed, almost none were sold. But in time, this small book, just 95 pages long, would alter the course of world literature. Walter Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, in West Hills, Town of Huntington, Long Island, to parents close to Quaker. As the American Civil War was beginning, Whitman published his poem "Beat! Beat! Drums!" as a patriotic rally call for the North. During next 20 years, with more works published, his popularity grew in America and Britain. Whitman's work breaks the boundaries of poetic form; he used unconventional images and symbols in his poetry, including rotting leaves, tufts of straw, and debris. He openly wrote about death and sexuality, including prostitution. ​ After suffering a paralytic stroke in early 1873, Whitman moved to the home of his brother in Camden, New Jersey. Whitman died on March 26, 1892. A public viewing of his body was held at his Camden home where over one thousand people visited in three hours. Whitman's oak coffin was barely visible because of all the flowers and wreaths left for him. "America's poet... He is America." /Ezra Pound/





Brady, Mathew B., approximately 1823-1896, photographer


Library of Congress

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