The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau Dunshee Ambrotype of Thoreau, 1861 (Courtesy Concord Museum)
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"Thoreau's Journals, at home of E. H. Russell, Worcester, February 26, 1901" (Courtesy Concord Free Public Library)
Thoreau's Manuscripts
Thoreau's Handwriting
Online Journal Transcripts
Thoreau's Correspondence
First Publications of Thoreau's Books and Essays
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Selected Editions of Thoreau's Works

HDT's correspondence

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This transcript of manuscript volume 21 of Thoreau's Journal, which begins on April 23 and ends on September 6, 1856, was made from a photocopy of the original, owned by the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City (MA 1302:27). The transcript, which represents the manuscript as closely as it is practicable to do in type, has been proofread against a photocopy of the manuscript but not against the original, and it has not been edited. Thoreau did not prepare his Journal for publication, and throughout this transcript the reader will find anomalies including abbreviations, incomplete words and sentences, and misspellings. Interlined text is positioned approximately as in the manuscript. Text written in pencil is enclosed within percent signs, and uncertain readings appear in braces. "X"s in the text indicate Thoreau's observations of the stage of development of individual plants (see Journal 6: 1853, ed. William Rossi and Heather Kirk Thomas [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press], pp. 373-374). List marks (//) in left and right margins mark information about natural events that signal or are related to seasonal features; Thoreau used this information later as he compiled and constructed his phenological lists and charts. Footnotes made by transcribers call attention to matters the volume editors need to resolve.

An image of manuscript volume 21, the source of the transcript, is available here by the courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum. This image is a third-generation reproduction, scanned at the Thoreau Edition from a set of Copyflo images made in the 1960s from a black-and-white microfilm provided to Walter Harding by the Morgan Library. It is less than ideal, but it does show the physical arrangement of elements--date and location lines, paragraphs, lists, numbers, drawings, clippings waxed to pages--in the Journal pages. It also shows Thoreau's revisions and additions in situ; these are described in apparatus entries in the Thoreau Edition's printed volumes, but descriptions can represent them only imperfectly.

Dates of entries have been bookmarked in both sets of images. If your browser does not show the navigation pane buttons when you open the link, download the file (right click and print and save it as a PDF). When you open it on your computer you should see the bookmark icon among others to the left of the image of the page.

With manuscript volume 22, volume 21 forms the basis for Journal 11: 1856-1857.

  • April 23 - September 6, 1856: Transcript
  • April 23 - September 6, 1856: Manuscript
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