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
"Thoreau's Journals, at home of E. H. Russell, Worcester, February 26, 1901" (Courtesy Concord Free Public Library)
Thoreau's Manuscripts
Thoreau's Handwriting
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Thoreau's Correspondence
First Publications of Thoreau's Books and Essays
Recommended Editions of Thoreau's Works
Selected Editions of Thoreau's Works

HDT's correspondence

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Manuscript volume 20 of Thoreau's Journal begins on January 4 and ends on April 23, 1856. The transcript, which represents the manuscript as closely as it is practicable to do in type, was made from a photocopy of the original owned by the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City (MA 1302:26). It 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.

In the transcript, added and interlined text is positioned approximately as in the manuscript, but it appears in a smaller type size than text written on line. Text written in pencil appears in gray type. Uncertain readings appear in braces. "X"s in the text indicate Thoreau's observations of the stage of development of individual plants (for more information, see Journal 6: 1853, ed. William Rossi and Heather Kirk Thomas [Princeton University Press, 2000], pp. 373-374). Thoreau's list marks (//) in left and right margins indicate 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. (For an overview of Thoreau's phenological project, see "An Introduction to Henry David Thoreau's Phenological Data, Collected in Concord, Massachusetts, Between 1851 and 1861.") Thoreau's drawings are positioned within the transcript to correspond as closely as possible to their location on the manuscript pages. Footnotes describe features of the manuscript that cannot be represented in type.

Manuscript volume 20 contains two kinds of features that can't be adequately represented in the transcript: newspaper clippings attached to pages, and some of Thoreau's tables showing measurements of snow depth. An Appendix that follows the transcript presents images of the MS pages that contain these features.

The image of manuscript volume 20 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.

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 19, volume 20 forms the basis for Journal 10: 1855-1856.

Revised November 2018

  • January 4 - April 23, 1856: Transcript
  • January 4 - April 23, 1856: Manuscript
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