Notebooks and Diaries
Like the journalist he was by training and occupation, Walt Whitman carried small, often handmade, notebooks with him wherever he went. He used them to jot down notes, names, observations and accounts of people he observed and met or descriptions of places visited. When a notebook was not handy, he scribbled on fragments and available scraps, or reutilized paper from a print shop floor. He kept short account of daily activities, addresses, and appointments in diary daybooks that served as informal scrapbooks for business cards and other miscellany. Notebooks from military hospitals contained names and information about soldiers in the wards. He also used notes and notebooks as a basis for his creative work as a poet and freelance writer. He drafted trial lines for poems, ideas for stories, or thoughts about famous people and various topics under the sun, and worked through philosophical perspectives he wanted to exemplify in his life and writings.