The William E. Barton Collection of Walt Whitman Materials was compiled by Barton and gifted to the Amherst College Archives by his grandson Randall Barton (AC 1937) in 1968.
William Eleazar Barton (1861-1930) was an American Congregational minister, lecturer, teacher, and author. He was born in Sublette, Illinois in 1861 to Jacob and Helen (Methven) Barton. After becoming ordained in 1885, Barton married Esther Treat Bushnell and became a missionary in Robbins, Tennessee. Barton served as minister in Robbins, Tennessee, then Oak Park, Illinois until his retirement in 1924. Barton died in Brooklyn, New York in 1930.
In addition to his role as a Congregational minister, Barton wrote and published numerous books. While most known for his extensive research on Abraham Lincoln, Barton appears to have collected these Walt Whitman manuscripts and related materials, perhaps while conducting research for his 1928 published volume Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman.
The collection contains a small assortment of Whitman manuscripts, portraits, and various printed material. The collection also contains few items created by William E. Barton, including research notes, transcriptions, photostatic copies, and correspondence.
More information about another item from this collection, John Burroughs’s autograph manuscript of “Flight of the Eagle” with emendations by Walt Whitman, can be found in this past blog post: https://consecratedeminence.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/1606/
The final version of “Flight of the Eagle” was published as the last essay in John Burroughs’s Birds and poets (New York : Hurd and Houghton, 1877). This manuscript has been separated from the collection and cataloged: https://fcaw.library.umass.edu/F/?func=direct&doc_number=012465161&doc_library=FCL01.
A finding aid for the William E. Barton Collection of Walt Whitman Materials is available. Much of this collection has been digitized and is available in the Amherst College Digital Collections.