American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Walt Whitman and
the Civil War

Carte-de-visite portrait of Whitman
Alexander Gardner
Carte-de-visite portrait of Whitman, 1864
Albumen print mounted on card
Prints & Photographs Division

Walt Whitman made dozens of small notebooks from paper and ribbon to carry with him as he visited wounded Civil War soldiers in Washington area hospitals between 1863 and 1865. In them he comments on the food provided at the Armory Hospital. Other notebooks describe the horrors of war. As a volunteer delegate under the Christian Commission, he consoled the sick and dying and often wrote letters to their families. Personal papers form the core of the Library's unsurpassed Whitman collection, augmented by first editions and proofs of his work, Whitman's personal library, pictorial materials, and selected personal effects.

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