U.S. Sanitary Commission
Established in 1861, the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC), a civilian relief organization authorized by the U.S. government, helped to centralize the collection and efficient distribution of cash and in-kind donations from the Northern public during the Civil War. USSC activities ultimately included advising U.S. military medical authorities on proper sanitation practices in hospitals and camps, providing nurses and medical supplies, distributing food and other necessities to servicemen, and publishing useful information for the public. Many USSC branches held regional “sanitary fairs” that raised funds and increased support for the Union war effort. The most notable item auctioned at a fair was Abraham Lincoln’s donated manuscript copy of the final Emancipation Proclamation.