US Sanitary Commission



During the Civil War, a volunteer organization called the United States Sanitary Commission was formed with the purpose of raising supplies and funds for the North, and of overseeing the sanitary conditions of military hospitals.  From this Commission, many significant Americans -- including Clara Barton, Dorothea Dix and Frederick Law Olmstead -- went on to achieve greatness by beginning America's social and medical movements.  Fund and supply raising events, called Sanitary Fairs, were held throughout the Northern states.  The Women's Auxiliary of the U. S. Sanitary Commission was particularly important in making and donating clothes, bandages and quilts at these Fairs.  All supplies donated were stamped on the back saying "U. S. Sanitary Commission" and documented in Commission records.  Today, they are national treasures.


The Sanitary Commission requested that quilts measure 48 by 84 inches, as these quilts were given to soldiers to carry as part of their bedrolls and were used in military hospitals on the wounded soldiers' cots.  In two and a half years, the Women's Auxiliary made and donated to the Union troops 250,000 quilts.  They frequently carried the names of the makers and messages of hope and support.


 The U.S. Sanitary Commission later became known as The American Red Cross.

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1864 US Sanitary Commission Quilt owned by the Lincoln Shrine.


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