The Tweetable Letters of “Mother Whitman”

Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. From the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana.
Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. From the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana.

Wesley Raabe, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Kent State University, has published an edition of the letters of Walt Whitman’s mother, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, on the Walt Whitman Archive website.  Entitled “walter dear”: The Letters from Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Her Son Walt, the edition includes a critical introduction, images of the original letters, transcriptions, and extensive explanatory annotations on each letter. 144 of the 170 letters in the edition are held in the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana here at the Rubenstein Library.

In addition, Prof. Raabe shares thoughts on editing these fragile letters, and on the treatment they have received from our Conservation Services Department here at Duke,  in a thought-provoking blog post entitled “Restoring Fragile Remains: Two Louisa Van Velsor Whitman Letters.”  If it strikes a chord with you, please consider adopting an item from the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana or another selection in the Libraries’ new Adopt-a-Book program to support the conservation of our materials.

Finally, Prof. Raabe has created a Twitter account to share excerpts from Louisa’s eminently quotable letters.  Follow @MotherWhitman for such gems as:

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.




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