The Thoreau Log: A Digital Documentary Life of Henry D. Thoreau

The Thoreau Log: A Digital Documentary Life of Henry D. Thoreau is a digital compendium of documents relating to the life of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862).

To better understand the nature and scope of The Thoreau Log, here is what Jay Leyda wrote in the introduction to his The Melville Log: A Documentary Life of Herman Melville, 1819-1891 (New York, Harcourt, Brace, c1951 Vol. I, p. xii):

The result is a book made of documents, documents of many kinds and from many sources, written by many men and women (and some children); but documents cannot be accepted unconditionally. A “documcnt” should be distrusted as much as a photograph, for documents are as fallible as their human authors. Letters contained as many falsehoods and misunderstandings in 1851 as they do in 1951, and journalists and critics (and typesetters) of a century ago operated under much the same pressures that they do today. Each document quoted here requires some judgment of its author’s motives and character…  The continuity must also be regarded skeptically, for any arrangement of such rich materials is bound to give a deceptive effect of completeness. In addition to our awareness that a century of destruction has been busy, and that what we are allowed to see is but the most tantalizing fraction of what was once put on paper (our fullest documents — the living men and women — are also out of reach), there is a yet more difficult thing to keep in mind: the absence of information which may be as significant as that which is present.

What you see here is only the beginning. This is an on-going project of the Walden Woods Project and will continue to grow so please check back often.

To get started, click on a year or years to see log entries from that period.

Please report errors to the Walden Woods Project’s Thoreau Institute Library.

Have a question about Thoreau? Ask the Curator!

Search the Log

If you are looking for something specific in the log, try the log search: