Kenneth Price, a Whitman expert from the University of Nebraska, realized he had unearthed a trove of documents in the famous American poet’s handwriting, filed away in the National Archives and virtually forgotten until now.

On Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the archives announced that Price had found almost 3,000 pieces in Whitman’s handwriting, a discovery that Archivist of the United States David Ferriero called “astonishing.”

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