Scope and arrangement
The Pennsylvania Archives, 1861-1867, bring together the records of three USSC organizations working from offices at 1307 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia: the Philadelphia Agency, which was the operational office of the Philadelphia Associates who organized in 1861; the Women’s Pennsylvania Branch, an auxiliary organization established in 1863; and the USSC’s Canvassing and Supply Department, created in 1864 to coordinate fundraising and publicity among USSC eastern branches, including publication of the Sanitary Bulletin. Also present are records of supply and relief work conducted by USSC relief agents at Gettysburg and Harrisburg.
Philadelphia Agency records, 1861-1867, document General Office administrative activities, including the operation of a large supply depot in Philadelphia; providing supply and relief services for USSC eastern operations, especially during major military campaigns; meeting the supply and special relief needs of the Army and servicemen in the Philadelphia area; and developing local support for the USSC. Materials include general correspondence, supply records, and bill books of expenses. Reports from relief agents assisting the Army of the Potomac during the spring and summer of 1864 are also found. Agency records document its ongoing responsibility for the receipt and shipment of supplies from branches to the Washington office and other USSC locations; the early procurement of supplies from aid societies prior to the transfer of this function to the Women’s Pennsylvania Branch is documented in Supply Department letters received and a record of supplies received. The Special Relief Department’s distribution of supplies to local Army hospitals and camps; and its assistance to soldiers and sailors in need, especially those discharged and disabled, are represented in letters received; journals, a register, and memo book of relief provided; reports; and supply requisitions, orders and receipts. Its management of a post-war Soldiers’ Lodge, which also served women visiting relatives in hospitals, is reflected in record books documenting admissions, supply work, and provision of meals and lodgings; a memo book, a cash book, and papers relating to its construction. The Agency’s operation of a Bureau of Employment for discharged soldiers and sailors after the war is represented in registers listing those seeking or providing employment, and letters received, largely from servicemen.
The Philadelphia Agency and the Women’s Pennsylvania Branch worked closely together to maintain the supply depot and to provide special relief services in Philadelphia.
Women’s Pennsylvania Branch materials, 1862-1865, document its efforts to collect and stock supplies from a large network of aid societies in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, for further shipment to USSC locations and for local distribution for relief purposes, as carried out by its Executive Committee, the Committee’s Corresponding Secretary, and the Committee of Correspondence. These activities, including reorganization and expansion of the supply system, are documented in supply correspondence and record books, general correspondence, and minutes. Local supply distribution is the primary representation of special relief work in the records; other relief activities and the general management of Branch work are documented in committee and aid society reports to the Board of Managers, and Board of Manager minutes.
Records of the USSC’s Canvassing and Supply Department, 1864-1865, document the efforts of its superintendent, Joseph Parrish, and canvasser and registrar John A. Anderson, to coordinate USSC fundraising and publicity in the northeast by assigning canvassing agents to give lectures promoting USSC goals and needs, and coordinating the publication of the Sanitary Bulletin. The Department also appears to have been in charge of providing blank forms and ledgers for the USSC. Materials consist of correspondence received and sent by Parrish and Anderson, including reports from canvassers; a departmental diary; items submitted for publication in the Bulletin; a list and directory of Bulletin subscribers; copies of USSC Standing Committee minutes, and financial records.
Also present are records documenting supply work conducted by USSC agents at Gettysburg in 1863 and at Harrisburg in 1864-1865, as well as the operation of a soldiers’ lodge at Harrisburg, 1864-1865.
Records of other USSC organizations located at 1307 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia are arranged separately in the collection, as follows. They worked in close collaboration with the Agency.
Records of the Protective War Claim and Pension Agency (PWCPA) are found in the USSC Army and Navy Claim Agency record group (MssCol 18809). Record of the Philadelphia Hospital Directory are found in the USSC Hospital Directory record group (MssCol 19877).
The Philadelphia Agency also housed the Philadelphia office of the USSC’s Agency for the Purchase of Fresh Hospital Supplies (1863-1864), based in Washington, D.C. The Philadelphia office assisted with the purchase and shipment of fresh produce, poultry and meat for distribution to hospitals in Washington and also Gettysburg. Its records are found in the USSC Washington, D.C. record group (MssCol 22261).
Financial records for many of the Philadelphia-based entities can be found in the USSC Accounts and Vouchers record group (MssCol 18820).
The United States Sanitary Commission records. Pennsylvania archives are arranged in four series:
Scope and content note
The Philadelphia Agency Archives, 1861-1867, comprise the records of the Agency’s administrative General Office, the Special Relief Department, and the Bureau of Employment. Materials document the efforts of general superintendent R.M. Lewis and his staff to manage a large supply depot in Philadelphia for the USSC; to provide supply and relief services for USS eastern operations, especially during major military campaigns; to meet the supply and relief needs of the Army and servicemen in the Philadelphia area; and to develop local support for the USSC.
General Office correspondence documents the Agency’s close collaboration with USSC staff in Washington and New York, and USSC branches and departments; the formation of the Women’s Pennsylvania Branch; operations relating to the battle of Gettysburg and other battles and campaigns; requests from hospitals and individuals for supplies or other assistance; and office administration, which is also documented in bill books of expenses. Reports to Lewis from relief agents assisting the Army of the Potomac during the spring and summer of 1864 are also found. The Agency’s main supply function, receiving supplies from other USSC branches and forwarding supplies to the Washington Office and other USSC locations, is documented in invoice books; these also include some local issues of supplies. The Agency’s collection of supplies from aid societies in Pennsylvania and surrounding areas prior to the transfer of this function to the Women’s Pennsylvania Branch are documented in General Office Supply Department letters received and a record of supplies received.
Records of the Special Relief Department document the variety of support provided to the Army and to individual soldiers and others in the Philadelphia area by Special Relief Agent Clement Soest and his assistant A.W. Morton, as seen in letters from various parties requesting special relief or supplies; Soest’s journals and a memo book recording daily visits to Army hospitals and camps, soldiers’ aid establishments, and discharged soldiers at their homes; a chronological register of special relief provided; and monthly reports summarizing work accomplished. Supply distribution is documented in requisitions, receipts, and reports. Operation of the Department’s Soldiers’ Lodge is represented in an admission register; records of meals, lodgings and supplies provided; and papers relating to its construction. Orders for railroad transportation for soldiers and others, as well as hospital reports listing patients at U.S. area hospitals are also present.
Bureau of Employment records, consisting of letters received from servicemen and others, and registers of applications for those seeking or providing jobs, document the Agency’s post-war efforts to provide employment for discharged soldiers and sailors, especially the disabled, in the Philadelphia area.
The Philadelphia Agency worked closely with the Women’s Pennsylvania Branch in its supply and special relief work. Researchers may wish to consult the Branch’s Executive Committee records for additional documentation on aid society donations and supply work supporting the Agency’s Special Relief Department.
There is little material related to the Great Central Fair of June 1864 in the Agency’s records, although staff members were involved in Fair activities.
Scope and content note
The Women’s Pennsylvania Branch Archives, 1862-1865, document the supply procurement and distribution activities of the Branch as carried out by its Executive Committee, the Committee’s Corresponding Secretary, and the Committee of Correspondence, under the direction of the Board of Managers. The Branch’s special relief work, particularly the distribution of supplies for the Philadelphia Agency’s Special Relief Department, is represented to a lesser extent.
The Executive Committee’s supply correspondence and record books provide a detailed record of the daily receipt and storage of supplies received from aid societies, for further shipment or for distribution in the Philadelphia area. The Committee’s direction of branch and aid society organizational matters, promotion of supply donations, and discernment of USSC supply needs are documented in the Branch’s general correspondence, consisting of letters received by Moore, Grier and others, from USSC offices and branches, aid societies, and individuals. The reorganization and expansion of the Branch’s network of aid societies by the Committee of Correspondence, and related canvassing efforts, are also represented in general correspondence, as well as in their minutes, and their reports to the Board of Managers. Executive Committee minutes largely concern appointments and resignations of members.
General management of Branch activities is documented in Board of Manager minutes; work conducted by committees and some local aid societies is also represented in reports submitted to the Board. Also present are brief minutes kept by R.M. Lewis of the Branch’s annual meetings in 1864 and 1865 noting the election of officers, and Branch cash books.
There are no records for the Special Relief Committee other than reports to the Board of Managers, although the distribution of supplies for individual and special relief are found in supply records of the Executive Committee.
The Women’s Pennsylvania Branch worked closely with the Philadelphia Agency in its supply and special relief efforts. The records of the Agency, arranged separately in this record group, also document the Sanitary Commission’s activities in the Philadelphia area and the interconnectedness of the two organizations. Researchers may wish to consult the Agency’s General Office Supply Department records, documenting contributions from aid societies prior to April 1863.
There is little material related to the Great Central Fair of June 1864 in the Women’s Pennsylvania Branch’s records, although many Branch members were involved in Fair work.
The Gettysburg and Harrisburg Archives, 1863-1865, consist mostly of records of supplies issued and received at the two locations. Harrisburg material also includes registers for the Soldiers’ Rest.
The Canvassing and Supply Department Archives, 1862-1865, document the department’s canvassing and publication activities and include letters received and reports from canvassers, material published in the Sanitary Bulletin, and copies of letters sent by Parrish and Anderson. Also present is a diary kept by departmental personnel, a Pennsylvania county directory, copies of USSC’s Standing Committee minutes, and financial records.