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What the world thought of Whitman

Last night, I decided that enough of the semester had passed without me trying to tie Latin America in with Walt Whitman. So, going off some vague memory, I found an article written in praise of Whitman by Cuban writer José Martí (1853-1895). Martí was integral in motivating Cuba to separate from Spanish rule and establish itself, […] […]

Fredericksburg FieldTrip

Field trips have classically been (for me, anyway) painfully boring, filled with bratty kids who I didn’t like, and full of humiliation if my parents attended as chaperones. Thankfully, we’re in college so our parents won’t be attending, we don’t go to school with bratty kids (well…haha, just kidding), and now the field trips are […] […]

Chelsea for October 27

Though in Erkkila’s essay, “Burying President Lincoln,” she asserts that, “Although Lincoln was shot on Good Friday and died the following day, Whitman avoids the obvious Lincoln—Christ symbolism [in “Where Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,”] preferring instead the local symbolism of lilac and star, which were associated in his imagination with the time of […] […]

Belated Partial Field Trip Post

When we were at the Fredericksburg battlefield the park ranger there let me take pictures of the photos of the pictures she showed the tour group. I took a few of them and then lined them up with current day pictures: This one isn’t of the battlfield, but the man on the left was a […] […]

A Message from Beyond

An email I received from a former student. The eyes are everywhere, people: Hey Professor, Long time no talk. I hope all is going well this semester at UMW. I miss the environment there greatly. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been following along with the Exploring Whitman blog as much as possible, and […] […]

The RF&P Railroad – Material Culture Museum Entry

When Walt Whitman came down to Fredericksburg in 1862, he traveled along a variety of different transportation methods including trains. Trains were a major factor in American travel before the Civil War and they would become invaluable to the war effort in the North and South. The railroads of Virginia were especially important to the […] […]

Cultural Museum Entry: Surgical Saws in the Civil War

Background: Surgical saws and tools have been in use since at least 3000 B.C. The first known surgical armamentaria, the equivalent of a Civil War surgeon’s kit, was found in Pompeii, and dates back to 79 A.D. (Kirkup 21). Surgeon’s tools at the time were composed from many materials, including copper, bronze, silver and steel […] […]

Sam P. for Material Culture Museum: Hardtack and Other Indelicacies

Army rations of the Civil War, and the problems stemming from them. […]

Ben’s (Im)Material Culture Museum Entry: Ghosts of Virginia The tourist attraction sign for Chatham, where the ghost of a heartbroken woman is said to walk the grounds for one night every seven years. Lamb’s Creek Church, where two Confederate soldiers apparently had a third companion but the flash of lightening They say that there is a church about thirteen miles outside […] […]

Chelsea’s Material Culture Museum Entry: Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre 1865’s%20Assassination.asp Presidential Box 1865 Ford’s Theatre Now Ford’s Theatre sits at 511 10th Street NW, the site originally occupied by the First Baptist Church of Washington which was built in 1833. In 1859, the congregation abandoned the building when they merged with the Fourth Baptist Congregation formed on 13th Street. After a few years of occasional […] […]

Material Culture Museum Entry: Musical Instruments And Their Songs

Bealeton, Va. Drum corps, 93d New York Infantry Throughout the Civil War, music played a significant part in soldiers’ daily lives. According to Aaron Sheehan-Dean in his work, The View From the Ground Experiences of Civil War Soldiers, songs persuaded men to enlist, comforted them during battle, entertained them in camp, supported them during drill […] […]

Material Culture Museum: Civil War Hospitals

During the Civil War there were many advances made in medical treatment. Often through trial and error surgeons discovered new methods to treat patients and more effective methods of care. Treatment was not the only area of medicine that advanced however, the use of military hospitals was drastically changed during the Civil War and set […] […]

Saturday, October 24, Washington City: Some Info

Whitmaniacs, A few notes for Saturday (check for updates!): 1. Carpool rendez-vous: Jefferson Circle behind Combs at 9:00 a.m. 2. Parking in DC: 1201 F St. NW, 20005 Take 95 North to 395 North (follow signs from 95 for 395/495/Washington/Tysons) On 395, take 12th Street exit toward L’Enfant Promenade 12th Street (follow slight left at 11th St SW/12th street tunnel) Left onto […] […]

Material Culture Museum Entry- Stove Pipe Hat

Atop over six feet of President Lincoln’s thin body sat what is perhaps his most recognizable feature: a top hat. Besides his other obvious contributions to America’s history, Lincoln also started a major fashion trend. While most top hats of the time were about seven inches tall, Lincoln urged his higher and higher, sometimes wearing […] […]

Sam Krieg’s Material Culture Museum Entry

During the nineteenth century, firearm technology experienced a series of incredible technological advances. The smooth bore, round-ball musket, which had been favored for centuries of warfare, was replaced by the grooved barrels and cylindro-conical rounds of the rifle. However, during the Civil War, a middle ground between the two styles was favored by the […] […]

Culture Museum: Lincoln’s Funeral/Cortege

Lincoln was shot on April 15, 1865, at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC (Kunhardt 119). Within hours of his death, Washington was scrambling to work on the preparations. The undertaker worked nearly nonstop 24 hours to produce Lincoln’s $1500 coffin, which measured 6 feet 6 inches long, a tight fit for Lincoln’s 6 feet 4 […] […]

Horribly Belated Field Trip Post for which I am Sorry

Here are some (terribly belated) pictures of our trip to the Fredericksburg Battlefield and Chatham. I’m sorry it’s taken so long; Flickr hasn’t been uploading my pictures quite right. All right. That’s all for now. I have a written post that I’m finishing up; I’m just tweaking it so that I say exactly what I want […] […]

Material Culture Museum: Ice Cream!

The origins of ice cream are mysterious. There’s documentation of people flavoring snow hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, but that’s really more of a primative snow cone than ice cream. Some might place its beginning during the reign of Nero (54-68 CE), because the famous Emperor enjoyed a frozen, sweetened combination of […] […]

Virginia for October 20

I think the best quote that personifies the answer to the prompt questions this week is from Calder’s “Persona Recollections of Walt Whitman”. She mentions that when Whitman heard about a soldier from the West who had never seen an orange, he immediately brought oranges to that soldier on his next visit. I find it […] […]

In Advance of Our DC Trip . . .

Kim Roberts, who’ll be our guide on Saturday (, has sent these for us: a map of our tour and an image of the haversack Whitman took on his rounds to the hospitals. Map by Emery Pajer. We will be seeing work places 8 through 11 on our walking tour, and boarding house location 7. […]

Ben B for October 20th

What struck me most while reading the Calder essay this week was her physical descriptions of Whitman, especially within the contexts of much of the photos of him that we have seen from after the war. The Whitman Calder describes is a young virile tree of a man, brash and cocky, the type of Whitman […] […]

Material Culture Museum Entry, Soldiers’ Home

Lincoln’s Cottage, Soldier’s Home Founding and History of Soldiers’ Home Founded by a Major General, General, and a Senator on March 3, 1851 after the suggestion of an Army Asylum in his Annual Message to the President in November of 1827 by Secretary of War James Barbour. Thus, it took almost 30 years before action was taken […] […]

Why is much of Drum-Taps from a Soldier’s View?

I’m having trouble reconciling Whitman’s desire to portray the war honestly and his poems that are set in the midst of battle. I suppose it is a naïve assumption, but, before Drum-Taps, I felt that the voice in Whitman’s poetry was his own. In Drum-Taps, however, this is obviously not the case, as Whitman never […] […]

Erin for 9/20

Every week, I feel like I learn something new about Whitman. This week I learned that Whitman was apparently a racist. I suppose I had just assumed that since he was a forward thinker, and that he wrote about sheltering a runaway slave in Song of Myself that he was for equality. Of course this […] […]

Courtney for 10/20

Whitman himself warned an admirer, “You must not construct such an unauthorized and imaginary ideal Figure, and call it W.W. and so devotedly invest your loving nature in it. The actual W.W. is a very plain personage, and entirely unworthy such devotion.” I think that this quote reveals a lot about Whitman and his attitudes […] […]