The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau Dunshee Ambrotype of Thoreau, 1861 (Courtesy Concord Museum)
What's New About the Project About Thoreau's Writings About Thoreau Resources for Research
"Young maples, Walden Pond, Thoreau's Cove, June 11, 1901" (Courtesy Concord Free Pubic Library)
Description and History
Project Staff
Editorial and Production Procedures

"Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance. They make the latitudes and longitudes."

----Letter, Thoreau to Lidian Emerson, May 22, 1843


The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau began in 1966 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and NEH has been a continuing source of support since then. The State University College of New York at Geneseo, Princeton University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, Georgia State University, Northern Illinois University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, have contributed generously. Individuals, organizations, and foundations, including the Barkley Foundation through the National Trust for the Humanities, have also provided important support.


Federal funding and institutional support can only take us so far toward the completion of all twenty-eight volumes of the project. The National Endowment for the Humanities, which has provided both funding and validation of the project's quality, has never been able to guarantee long-term support. The University of California, Santa Barbara, has made an open-ended commitment to financing the project, but that commitment supports only one and a half editorial staff positions. To achieve a productive "critical mass" of personnel, additional funds are essential.

The editorial process is time-consuming and arduous, requiring experience in reading Thoreau's difficult handwriting, consistency in reporting editorial decisions, and care in proofreading. The essential condition for efficient progress is a staff of skilled, committed individuals who can be guaranteed secure jobs.

In 2014, with seventeen volumes published, we are past the half-way mark. Correspondence 2 is in page proofs, and initial editorial work on Correspondence 3 is complete. Our average rate of publication over the life of the project is one volume every two and a half years. With the support we are now receiving from UCSB, NEH, and the Barkley Fund, we can improve the rate to one volume every two years. But in order to complete the project within a reasonable period, we should publish a volume per year.

You can help to insure that the Thoreau Edition completes its goal to redefine and reestablish the canon of one of America's most influential writers and thinkers by making a tax-deductible donation to the project. No donation is too small to help us, but with an additional $140,000 (salary plus benefits) per year that we could count on, we could hire and retain another full-time Associate Editor and work on more volumes simultaneously. With an additional $90,000 (salary plus benefits) per year we could add another full-time Editorial Assistant to the staff. A "wasting" endowment of $1 - 2M, carefully managed to be spent out as the project was completed, would accomplish the same goal as annual contributions.

If you have an interest in helping us deliver Thoreau to the world, please e-mail Elizabeth Witherell or call her at (805) 893-4298.