Sanitary Commission in the hospital
Drawing circa 1880

Relief associations provide some of the few official records documenting women's war work. The most important such organization was the Women's Central Association for Relief (WCAR), founded in April 1861 by Drs. Emily and Elizabeth Blackwell. (Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman doctor in the United States.) Eventually this organization became the United States Sanitary Commission. The aims of the association included providing medical relief to wounded soldiers and supplying the camps with food and medical supplies. Many local aid societies maintained connections with the national organization.

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