May 15

Walt Whitman registers the title, “Leaves of Grass,” with the U.S. District Court, NY

May 15, 1855

Related Lessons

  • Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes: Poems for a Democracy
    Lesson Plan / Art & Culture
    Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes: Poems for a Democracy

    Walt Whitman sought to create a new and distinctly American form of poetry. His efforts had a profound influence on subsequent generations of American poets. In this lesson, students will explore the historical context of Whitman's concept of "democratic poetry" by reading his poetry and prose and by examining daguerreotypes taken circa 1850. Next, students will compare the poetic concepts and techniques behind Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" and Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again," and will have an opportunity to apply similar concepts and techniques in creating a poem from their own experience.

  • Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: the Sweep of the Universe
    Lesson Plan / History & Social Studies
    Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: the Sweep of the Universe

    Clues to Walt Whitman's effort to create a new and distinctly American form of verse may be found in his Notebooks, now available online from the American Memory Collection. In an entry to be examined in this lesson, Whitman indicated that he wanted his poetry to explore important ideas of a universal scope (as in the European tradition), but in authentic American situations and settings using specific details with direct appeal to the senses.

L. Frank Baum (“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”) born

May 15, 1856

Emily Dickinson, American poet, dies

May 15, 1886

Related Lessons

  • Lesson 1: In Emily Dickinson's Own Words: Letters and Poems
    Lesson Plan / History & Social Studies
    Lesson 1: In Emily Dickinson's Own Words: Letters and Poems

    Reading Emily Dickinson’s letters alongside her poems helps students to better appreciate a remarkable voice in American literature, grasp how Dickinson perceived herself and her poetry, and—perhaps most relevant to their own endeavors—consider the ways in which a writer constructs a “supposed person.”

  • Lesson Plan / History & Social Studies
    Lesson 2: Responding to Emily Dickinson: Poetic Analysis

    In this lesson, students will explore Dickinson’s poem “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers” both as it was published as well as how it developed through Dickinson’s correspondence with her sister-in-law Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson.

  • Lesson 3: Emulating Emily Dickinson: Poetry Writing
    Lesson Plan / History & Social Studies
    Lesson 3: Emulating Emily Dickinson: Poetry Writing

    In this lesson, students closely examine Dickinson’s poem “There’s a certain slant of light” in order to understand her craft. Students explore different components of Dickinson’s poetry and then practice their own critical and poetry writing skills in an emulation exercise. Finally, in the spirit of Dickinson’s correspondences, students will exchange their poems and offer informed critiques of each others’ work.