View the Sarah Helen Whitman Papers

Among the special collections of the John Hay library, you can find five boxes of Sarah Helen Whitman’s personal papers, documents, notes, journals, and letters. Most of the documents have not been transcribed and published for public viewing, so there’s a unique intimacy you gain with the Providence Poetess when you sit down with these papers. From someone who has gone through these manuscripts numerous times, I’d have to say one that struck me the most was her written account of Poe first seeing her in her rose garden under a “midnight moon” in July of 1845. You should see these papers for yourself, if you can, and please share your experience here!

To make an appointment, you’ll need to create an Aeon account here:

(If you are not a student of Brown University, you can simply create an account as a “visiting researcher” to reserve the papers and view them in their reading room).

Below are some photos I’ve taken during my time with the manuscripts.