Today’s Hours:

All Hours & Directions

Terrell Main Library

8am - 5:30pm

Circulation Desk

8am - 5:30pm

Research Help Desk

3:30pm - 4:30pm

Research Help Chat

2:30pm - 4:30pm

Libraries Administrative Office

8:30am - 5pm

Azariah's Cafe

9am - 2pm (just drinks)

CIT Help Desk

8am - 4:30pm

Writing Center Daytime

Writing Center Evening

Speaking Center



Mary Church Terrell Main Library
148 W College St. Oberlin, OH 44074-1545


The main visitor lot is the east Service Building lot, and the south row of the Carnegie Building lot for visitors to offices within that building.

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Historical Context

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was apprenticed to a Brooklyn printer at the age of eleven, where he learned the art of printing and was introduced to journalism.

Throughout Whitman's lifetime, he worked for various news publications, reporting on such hot-button issues as the Free Soil Movement (1848-1854) and the American Civil War (1861-1865). While working as a journalist, he composed several short poems, however, his poetic career started in earnest with the composition of Leaves of Grass (first edition 1855). With this piece, Whitman rejected the structures of traditional poetry, favoring instead a rhythm which he himself devised to mimic common American speech patterns.

Although contemporary critics and readers were skeptical of this revolutionary poetical style, Leaves of Grass went into six editions, and included one of his most popular poems, “Song of Myself.” Aside from his work as a poet, Whitman is important as a literary artist in a broader sense. Whitman wrote, composed, printed, and published Leaves of Grass himself, blurring the lines between author, printer, and publisher. He also undermined conventional ideas of print editions, as each edition of Leaves of Grass was edited, amended, and added onto, in ways which were obvious, intentional, and extensive. In this way, the text of the poem and its materiality meld into a single entity, for which Whitman is wholly responsible.