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U.S. Sanitary Commission Pin

U.S. Sanitary Commission Pin, ca. 1861
Silver metal
Dimensions: 1 3/4″ (h) x 1 3/8″ (w)
Gift of Gershom Bradford, III and Edward Bradford (1968.1.318)

This pin is a rare example of the pins issued to volunteers of the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the period of the Civil War. Founded in 1861, the U.S. Sanitary Commission (USSC) was a private relief agency created to support sick and wounded Northern soldiers.

This pin was owned by either Charlotte Bradford of Duxbury or her niece’s husband, Frederick Newman Knapp (Administrator for the U.S. Sanitary Commission’s Special Relief branch). This pin is one of only three known examples.

Charlotte Bradford joined the U.S. Sanitary Commission, first as a nurse on board the transport ships, bringing sick and wounded off the front lines of battle. The essential task was eventually militarized, and USSC volunteers were sent home; Charlotte, instead, choose to go to Washington, D.C. where she became a U.S. Army nurse under the direction of Dorothea Dix. Charlotte then rejoined the USSC as the Matron for the Home for Soldiers and then the Matron for the Home for Wives & Mothers. This last was an utterly unique American experience; she was the only Matron for the Home for Wives & Mothers.

Charlotte’s experiences as a Civil War nurse are recorded in her diaries and in the intake notebook for the Home for Wives and Mothers. All of these volumes are in the collection of the DRHS Drew Archival Library. Her Civil War diary, in two volumes, is one of only six known, unedited nurse’s diaries. The intake notebook is equally intriguing, as it records the horrors and tragedy experienced by thousands of faceless, unidentified women in the Civil War.

For more information on Charlotte Bradford, please visit http://duxburyhistory.org/historic-houses/bradford-house/. The Bradford House, her home in Duxbury, is open to the public for viewing. You can also find more information on the Bradford archives at the Drew Archival Library.