Civil War – Sanitary Fairs

It was dangerous and hard for a few years during the American Civil War of 1861-1865 for our ancestors. Many families of Union soldiers in the northern states helped the Federal troops who needed additional assistance with medical care and nutritious food that maybe the military was not able to provide. Those families got together and came up with the idea of ‘Sanitary Fairs’.

Receiving letters from soldiers, families in the North started collecting money, supplies such as blankets, clothes, medicine and food for the troops. These became large collection drives, which turned into grand fairs, with large sums of money donated. Termed ‘Sanitary Fair’ and run mostly by the ladies the fairs were held in Northern cities. Fairs in New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Brooklyn, NY were some of the largest held. The ladies worked hard to provide items to sell and musical entertainment to attract more people to attend the fairs.

There was the United Stated Sanitary Commission (USSC) was formed in 1863 in an attempt to oversee hygiene conditions in the field plus to collect and distribute better supplies for the troops, most of whom were living in dirty conditions with nearly-inedible food. Many of the troops had already suffered from widespread outbreaks of disease due to poor living conditions and bad insect-infested food.

The ladies and the donations from the fairs worked with the United Stated Sanitary Commission. The largest number of fairs were held 1863 to 1865. Many of the items collected also went to the military hospitals to help the wounded.

If you had female ancestors in the northern states, they may have been a part of this large undertaking to assist the Union troops.

Photo: Announcement for an early fair in October 1862 in Philadelphia, PA.

Related Blogs:

Civil War Wounds

Blue and Gray Ancestors

Civil War Medical Records

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.