Wendy Katz, an art historian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, got more than she bargained for while searching through the Library of Congress penny newspaper collection. In a 1942 edition of the New Era, she found a 15-line poem, "To Bryant, the Poet of Nature," signed W.W. "I was literally going through these newspapers page by page and fully expected to find some of [Walt] Whitman's journalism," Katz tells the Lincoln Journal Star. "I didn't expect to find a poem."
The poem was apparently addressed to Whitman's friend, New York Evening Post editor and fellow poet William Cullen Bryant, but proving the author was Whitman involved some detective work, contextual analysis, and luck: Katz's husband, Kenneth Price, is an editor of the Walt Whitman Archive at the UNL's Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. Other Whitman scholars confirmed Katz's conclusion over the summer. To read the poem and Katz's line of research, visit the Journal Star.