Family Papers

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The small Family Papers series from the Charles E. Feinberg Collection of Walt Whitman Papers demonstrates Whitman as part of a web of relationships in his large English-Dutch family. The scattered materials span forty years from 1852 (three years before the first publication of Leaves of Grass) to the end of Whitman’s life in 1892. A highlight in the series is the 1863 diary written by Whitman’s brother George (1829-1901), who served in a New York regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War. Whitman was especially close to George and to their younger brother Jeff (1833-1890), who lived and worked in St. Louis. He maintained ties to his sisters Mary Van Nostrand and Hannah Louisa Heyde, as well as his sisters-in-law. Jeff’s wife Martha (1836-1873) died of illness when Whitman’s niece Mannahatta “Hattie” Whitman (1860-1886) was still young. Whitman’s youngest brother, Edward “Eddie” (1835-1892) was born mentally and physically disabled and needed life-time caretaking. Whitman joined his brother George and sister-in-law Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman (1842-1892), in looking after Eddie’s welfare after their mother Louisa Van Velsor Whitman died in 1873.

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