This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal

June 2 through September 10, 2017

Give me the old familiar walk, post office and all, with this ever new self, with this infinite expectation and faith. . . .

–Thoreau’s journal, November 1, 1858

Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) occupies a lofty place in American cultural history. He spent two years in a cabin by Walden Pond and a single night in jail, and out of those experiences grew two of this country’s most influential works: his book Walden and the essay known as “Civil Disobedience.” But his lifelong journal—more voluminous by far than his published writings—reveals a fuller, more intimate picture of a man of wide-ranging interests and a profound commitment to living responsibly and passionately.

This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal brings together nearly one hundred items in the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the author. Marking the 200th anniversary of Thoreau's birth and organized in partnership with the Concord Museum in his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, the show centers on the journal he kept throughout his life and its importance in understanding the essential Thoreau. More than twenty of Thoreau’s journal notebooks are shown along with letters and manuscripts, books from his library, pressed plants from his herbarium, and important personal artifacts. Also featured are the only two photographs for which he sat during his lifetime, shown together for the first time.

This Ever New Self: Thoreau and his Journal is organized by the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and the Concord Museum, Concord, Massachusetts. The exhibition is made possible with lead funding from an anonymous donor, generous support from the Gilder Foundation, and assistance from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

The exhibition will travel to the Concord Museum, September 29, 2017–January 21, 2018.

Benjamin D. Maxham (1821–1889), Henry David Thoreau, 1856, daguerreotype. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of an anonymous donor.

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