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USSC Processing Project: Diving In


Our first blog post announced the United States Sanitary Commission Records Processing Project, a three-year project to comprehensively process (arrange, describe, and physically preserve) the archival records of the United States Sanitary Commission, a civilian organization that supported the health, comfort and efficiency of Union forces during the American Civil War.

A glimpse of USSC in the stacksA glimpse of USSC in the stacksIn the meantime, we have been planning our work, evaluating the collection from top to bottom, studying the Sanitary Commission’s operations, acquiring supplies, and identifying materials needing conservation treatment in the Library’s Barbara Goldsmith Preservation Division. July marked the official beginning of processing and the arrival of new staff: we welcome our colleagues Elizabeth Delmage, Melissa Haley, Joseph Lapinski and Jane Rothstein to the Manuscripts and Archives Division and the USSC Processing Project. Work is now well under way in the Manuscripts and Archives Division’s new processing workspace in Long Island City.

USSC organization chart (in part!)USSC organization chart (in part!)Over the course of the next three years, we’ll share our explorations of the origins and structure of the USSC as their goals were defined and the scale of their sanitary, medical and relief efforts grew, keeping pace with the reach of Union forces into the South by land and sea. We’ll highlight the activities reflected in the records they created, and introduce people whose lives were entwined with or affected by the Sanitary Commission and the groups associated with it.  We’ll share individual documents that have stories to tell, and talk about the work we do as archivists to make the collection easier to understand and navigate. 

The goal of the project is to make the records accessible in the context of their creation and use. With a better understanding of the USSC’s structure, its channels of communication, and the informational resources to be found in the records, researchers will be able to follow their own paths of inquiry, and new paths will be suggested by the collection itself, and the guides we prepare to facilitate its use.



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