Scope and arrangement
The California Branch Archives consist primarily of correspondence, reports, minutes, a draft history, and a scrapbook documenting the work of the Branch and its predecessor organization the Soldiers’ Relief Fund Committee. The correspondence, chiefly that of Branch Secretary O.C. Wheeler, pertains to financial contributions solicited and received from individuals and aid societies. Letters and reports from organizing agents who canvassed various counties throughout California (and in Idaho) to organize aid societies contain details of their travels and the difficulties they encountered raising subscriptions, meetings attended, and expenses incurred. The agents’ reports and those submitted by local aid societies provide evidence of the extensive fundraising network developed in the state and beyond, reaching into numerous frontier and mining towns. Branch records also contain Wheeler’s monthly reports to the Branch’s Executive Committee, indexes of aid societies by location and names of officers, and miscellaneous financial items. See also USSC. Accounts and Vouchers record group (MssCol 18820) for additional financial records of the California Branch.
While material in this record group chiefly pertains to California, a small amount relates to neighboring states and territories where fundraising occurred. Although Rev. Thomas Starr King was active with the Soldiers’ Relief Fund Committee, there are no items written by him, and only few references to him in the minutes of the Executive Committee.
The United States Sanitary Commission records. California Branch archives are arranged in eight series:
- 1862-1866 and undated
- 1862 Sep 3 - 1865 Oct 18
Executive Committee meeting minutes of the Soldiers’ Relief Fund Committee and the California Branch. Branch minutes appear later in volume following numerous blank pages.
- 1864-1865 and undated
Two indexes are present for the California Branch: one for aid society locations and one for aid society officers. Some entries in both volumes contain dates, probably of affiliation.
- V. Address of the California Branch United States Sanitary Commission, to the People of the State of California(manuscript draft)1864
Manuscript draft (“To the People of California”) of a circular published as “Address of the California Branch United States Sanitary Commission, to the People of the State of California.” The draft, in the hand of Henry W. Bellows, was most likely written in September 1864, and was published on October 17.
A draft of a history of the Soldiers’ Relief Fund Committee and California Branch written by O.C. Wheeler. The history was submitted to the Commission in August, 1866, along with the Branch’s records. The draft also includes extracts from printed reports, circulars, forms, correspondence, clippings, and USSC publications.
- 1864 and undated
Includes lists of contribution totals from various locations, presumably assembled for publication purposes (some lists match those found in newspaper clippings in the Branch scrapbook), as well as loose notes regarding contributions.
One scrapbook (disbound) documenting the activities of the California Branch, includes circulars, flyers for fundraising events, internal Branch documents and printed forms, pamphlets, USSC publications, published Branch secretary and treasurer reports for 1865, and ephemera. The scrapbook also contains numerous newspaper clippings about Branch meetings, organizing agent activities, events, contributions, and the United States Christian Commission.