Blog & News

Sunrise over a dusting of snow near Walden Pond, January 2016. Photograph by Chynna Lemire.

Henry David Thoreau’s early essay “A Winter Walk” is often grouped with “A Walk to Wachusett” and the posthumously published “Walking,” inviting readings that focus primarily on the act of walking. Yet for all of Thoreau’s kinetic imagery and sauntering persona, the peripatetic philosophy of “A Winter Walk” has as much to say about the act of listening. Just as one moves through the physical world, the physical world moves through us as sound. Thoreau appreciates this. His winter soundscape exists in an array of textures and apparent physical properties. These audible qualities are crucial...

Maxham daguerreotype of Thoreau (restored) National Portrait Gallery, Washington

The past few years have been marked by a series of extrajudicial murders of Black people by police and vigilantes and by the emergence of a nationwide protest movement loosely united under the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” The Black community and their activist allies have expressed outrage in the wake of the killings of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and many others, and have organized rallies, vigils, and direct actions in cities across the United States. Black Lives Matter has sought to...

The cover of "The Days of Henry Thoreau" by Walter Harding

I am delighted to join in this celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the appearance of Walter Harding’s The Days of Henry Thoreau: A Biography. Like many of my generation who engaged in undergraduate and graduate studies in American history or literature during the late 1960s and early 1970s, I initially met Thoreau in Walden, “Civil Disobedience” (then better known as “Resistance to Civil Government”), and “Walking,” as well as in occasional anthologized snippets from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Cape Cod, The Maine Woods,...

Recipients receive $1,000 towards travel and research expenses at archives in the Greater-Boston area on Thoreau related projects, as well as free attendance at the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering held in Concord, MA in early July.

Both emerging and established scholars, as well as Thoreau enthusiasts, are encouraged to apply. 

Preference will be given to those candidates who will use the Thoreau Society’s Walter Harding Collection housed at the Thoreau Institute for at least part of the fellowship period, but applicants intending to use any of the Thoreau Society...

Driftwood on Nauset Beach. Photograph by Elizabeth Kalman.

Henry David Thoreau’s encounter with Cape Cod begins with a scene of chaos. He writes, “…we found that the Provincetown steamer, which should have got in the day before, had not yet arrived, on account of a violent storm; and, as we noticed in the streets a handbill headed, ‘Death! 145 lives lost at Cohasset!’ we decided to go by way of Cohasset.”1 Coming upon the wreck of the brig St. John, Thoreau is confronted with a vast morgue, and is stunned by the chaotic destruction rendered to the ship by the sea. “The largest timbers and iron braces were broken superfluously,...

Taghdarreh at Walden Pond

This past July, Iranian scholar Alireza "Ali" Taghdarreh left his country for the first time to visit America. Taghdarreh has produced the first-ever Persian translation of Walden. We were honored to have him come to Concord to speak at our 2015 Annual Gathering "Thoreau's Sense of Place."

The Walden Woods Project invited Taghdarreh to speak at the Institute to celebrate their 25th anniversary. He was introduced by their chairman, Don Henley, of the Eagles. You may...

A Masonic image of the sun

  The town of Concord, Massachusetts, is widely known as the home of Minutemen and Transcendentalists. It is the place where “embattled farmers” fired “the shot heard ‘round the world” on the 19th of April 1775, and launched the war for political independence. It is equally famous as the residence of the writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who more than a half-century later, waged a second American revolution for intellectual and spiritual independence. But had you come to this small town of some two thousand souls, sixteen miles west of Boston, in the mid-1820s to mark...

Willowell Foundation, Monkton, Vermont, home of the Walden Project. Photograph courtesy of Chris Mazzarella

At a time when educational reform programs have teachers concerned about their autonomy in the classroom, Henry David Thoreau’s early teaching career may offer some inspiration. It began in 1835, when Thoreau took time off from college to teach in Canton, Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard in 1837, he briefly accepted a position at the Concord Center School, but resigned a few weeks later when he disagreed with the school policy mandating corporal punishment.

...

Independent Gold-Hunter on his Way to California

On December 27, 1854, Henry Thoreau traveled to Nantucket Island to give a lecture titled “What Shall it Profit?” According to the advertisement in the December 8, 1854, edition of The Inquirer, one of the two island newspapers at the time, he was to speak as part of a “course of Lectures before the Proprietors of the Nantucket Atheneum.” The advertisement went on to say, “The Committee have limited the number of tickets, that the Hall may not be crowded.”  A good turnout was...

Detail, John James Audubon, “Spruce Grouse (Canachites canadensis),” original watercolor for plate no. 176, from Birds of America

Fourteen years before Henry David Thoreau climbed Mount Katahdin, and twenty-five years before his travels on the Allegash and Penobscot Rivers, John James Audubon and his family, who were traveling in search of northern birds and subscribers to The Birds of America (1827-1838), spent several weeks in rural Maine. As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Maine Woods, we may want to consider the art and writings that Audubon produced...

Pages