Scope and arrangement
The English Branch Archives, 1864-1865, document the work of a USSC auxiliary branch established in London by Americans wishing to gather support for the Sanitary Commission and the Union cause, particularly the activities of its secretary and USSC agent in England, E.C. (Edmund Crisp) Fisher. His efforts to promote the work of the USSC with prominent persons, political and social leaders, and institutions, and to encourage donations from Americans, are reflected in his incoming and outgoing correspondence, journal with minutes, address book, and scrapbook, as well as a register of letters received, and printed matter.
Incoming correspondence largely comprises letters acknowledging receipt of various USSC publications, reflecting Fisher's outreach to prominent noblemen and clergymen, liberal reformers, public officials and institutions. Although many are perfunctory acknowledgments from secretaries, these letters, along with those from U.S. consuls and businessmen in British cities, shed light on the stance of resident Americans and the British towards the war. Strategies for developing pro-Union sentiment and the difficulties of raising any substantial amount of funds in Britain are discussed. Also present are letters from members of the USSC's Standing Committee in New York and from Charles S.P. Bowles providing guidance and instruction. Similar content is reflected in copies of Fisher's outgoing correspondence, which include his reports to the Standing Committee. Advice given to Fisher from prominent American diplomatic staff such as Charles Francis Adams and Benjamin Moran, and others, point to occasional problems in Fisher's dealings with the American community in Britain. A small amount of incoming and outgoing correspondence refers to Fisher's personal business, that of importing and selling American sewing machines.
The circumstances surrounding the establishment of the English Branch and its work are documented in Fisher's manuscript journal with minutes, and a scrapbook. After the establishment of the Executive and Standing Committees and the election of officers recorded in the journal, no further minutes or description of organized activities of the Committees are found, aside from occasional mention of founding members, and financial accountings of donations and shipments listed in Fisher's 1865 summary of its work. Printed matter, concerning the work of the Sanitary Commission and humanitarian relief in wartime, includes Fisher’s "The English Branch of the United States Sanitary Commission. The Motive of its Establishment, and the Result of Its Work" (London, 1865), as well as Charles S.P. Bowles's report on his attendance at the 1864 Congress at Geneva, published by the European Branch (London, 1864?).
A small amount of financial records concerning the English Branch can be found in the USSC Accounts and Vouchers record group (MssCol 18820).
The records of the European Branch, headed by Rev. Dr. M'Clintock and John Bigelow, U.S. Consul in Paris, are not found in the United States Sanitary Commission records; however, their work is notably reflected in correspondence and printed matter in this record group, and in correspondence found throughout the New York, N.Y. Archives, especially the records of the Standing Committee, and the Henry W. Bellows papers.