Thomas B. Harned Collection

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The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman Papers consists of approximately 3,000 items spanning the period 1842 to 1937. Most of the items date from 1855, when Whitman produced the first edition of Leaves of Grass, to his death in 1892. Harned (1851-1921) was a Philadelphia attorney and a good friend of Whitman’s during the time that the poet lived in Camden, New Jersey. He became one of Whitman’s three literary executors, and he donated his collection to the Library of Congress in 1918.

The collection consists of correspondence, poetry and prose manuscripts, edited proofs, miscellany and printed material--including an illustrated cardboard Victorian Easter card in the shape of a butterfly that is well known to Whitman fans and scholars. Draft manuscript pages by Whitman on the meanings of Abraham Lincoln’s death make up part of a series of materials. Notes and notebooks comprise an important part of this collection. They include handwritten notebooks pertaining to Whitman’s writings and observations of the world, and others that stem from his visits to wounded and ill soldiers in Civil War hospitals.

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