The bohemians of antebellum New York left behind an assortment of texts that were never published in their lifetimes. Walt Whitman had a notebook during his time as a bohemian that he used to keep track of friends and colleagues (Ada Clare's name appears in the book, along with the address for the West 42nd Street home where she held a regular literary salon on Sunday evenings), as well as to write the draft of an unfinished poem about the evening revels at Pfaff's. The Vault at Pfaff's also provides transcriptions of letters between Whitman and a variety of correspondents during the late 1850s and early 1860s. Permission to reprint these letters has been generously granted by New York University Press; additional correspondence by and to Whitman is available through links to The Walt Whitman Archive.
One of the most valuable documents from this period is the diary of Thomas Butler Gunn, which was recently digitized and transcribed by the Missouri History Museum. The diaries that Gunn maintained in the period between 1849 and 1863 contain a wealth of information about the New York literary scene in general and the Pfaff's bohemians in particular. The anecdotes that Gunn records come from first-hand observation as well as second- or even third-hand accounts, so readers should exercise caution in taking what Gunn says at face value.
The metadata and abstracts for a variety of different manuscript texts—notebeooks, letters, diaries, etc.—are searchable on the site; where available, links have been provided either to external websites that house digital reproductions of these texts or to a CONTENTdm viewer here on the site.
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015