Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Poet at Work
Walt Whitman, half-length portrait, seated, facing left, wearing hat and sweater, holding butterfly

[Detail] Walt Whitman holding butterfly

Although it is a small collection, Walt Whitman Notebooks, 1847-1860s allows for interesting projects that foster a variety of Historical Thinking skills. Working with private journals, students will get a more personal as well as discriminating understanding of history as they consider the perspectives of Civil War soldiers and this unique American poet.

Chronological Thinking

Students can use Whitman's accounts of the 51st regiment of New York or of a hundred-day march to do projects that foster chronological thinking.

Students can make a timeline of the events of one of these accounts. They can also combine it with a timeline of the major events of the war to get a sense of the relationship between national and local events. Searching Civil War Photographs, 1861-1865 with the names of battle locations and dates, students can illustrate their timelines. Alternatively, they can relate time and events with places by creating a map. Have them mark the locations of major battles and other events, and label them with the date and a word or two to identify the event. Arrows between these locations can indicate travel, while color coding can be used to indicate the outcome of battles.