Collection of 39 journals, [Concord], 1837 October 22-1861 November 3 : autograph manuscript.

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MA 1302 and MA 1718
Thoreau, Henry David, 1817-1862.
Concord, 1837 October 22-1861 November 3
MA 1302: Purchased by Pierpont Morgan with the Wakeman Collection, 1909.
Curatorial Comments: 

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.
Thoreau began to keep a journal in earnest in 1837, shortly after he graduated from Harvard at the age of twenty. He continued the practice until a few months before his death at the age of forty-four. Almost all of the journals that survive in bound form are at the Morgan: thirty-eight were purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1909, and an additional journal was added to the collection in 1956.
Thoreau often took notes in pencil while he was out walking, then sat at home at his desk to write in his journal with a quill pen and ink. It was not unusual for him to write up several days' observations at a time, expanding the notes he had taken in the field. He revisited his completed notebooks time and again, extracting and revising text for lectures and published works, coding his botanical observations for transfer to data tables, and--most importantly--keeping track of his personal development. Year after year he recorded what he saw, heard, smelled, felt, and thought, even when he didn't know where it would all lead. "Probe the universe in a myriad points," he told himself in 1851. "Be avaricious of these impulses. You must try a thousand themes before you find the right one -- as nature makes a thousand acorns to get one oak." His entire journal practice was a work of self-observation based on that principle.

39 volumes, bound : ill. ; size varies

High reserve.
Illustrations of plants, leaves, flowers, fungi, etc., throughout, and two maps laid in (MA 1302.26 and MA 1302.38). Lists of animal, bird and plant sightings throughout. With a pressed spider (MA 1302.5) and a stem of small pressed flowers (MA .1302.27), and with clippings laid in throughout.
In 1878-1885, H.G.O. Blake published selections from Thoreau's journals. These volumes have blue pencil use-marks by Blake throughout.
Journals are cataloged individually.
Many leaves excised by Thoreau for use in lectures and essays.
Many volumes with indexes by Thoreau. Five journals signed (MA 1302.1, 2, 8, 12 and MA 1718).
The Morgan holds 39 of Thoreau's 47 journals.
Two volumes written while Thoreau was living near Walden Pond (MA 1302.7 and .8). He used material from these journals for writing Walden.

MA 1302 (Journals 1-2, 4-30): By descent in 1862 to Thoreau's sister, Sophia; by descent in 1876 to Thoreau's friend and correspondent, H.G.O. Blake; by descent in 1898 to E.H. Russell; sold around 1906; Stephen H. Wakeman; purchased by Pierpont Morgan with the Wakeman Collection, 1909. MA 1718 (Journal 3): By descent in 1862 to Thoreau's sister, Sophia; by descent in 1876 to Thoreau's friend and correspondent, H.G.O. Blake; disappeared from Blake's possession between 1892 and his death in 1898; bookplate of Stephen H. Wakeman, sold as part of the Wakeman Collection in 1924; acquired by the Morgan in 1956.