Despite their somewhat clinical-sounding name, sanitary fairs were lavish, well-attended charity events held in several major Northern cities with the goal of raising funds for the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC). This quasi-government organization, run mostly by volunteers, inspected Union Army camps and hospitals to ensure they were adhering to proper hygienic standards, and at the local level collected food, blankets, and medical supplies for soldiers fighting the Confederacy. These sanitary fairs, held between 1863 and 1865, were organized and run by the regional auxiliaries of the USSC, raising an estimated $2.7 million. Pittsburgh’s Sanitary Fair was held between June 1 and 18, 1864, and raised more than $300,000 for the care of Union soldiers. The Fair would come to be known as one of the most profitable fundraising events held in the wartime North. This rare albumen photograph depicts 6 Americans dressed in Chinese clothing from the Chinese booth at the Pittsburg fair, with the names of the individuals listed on the back of the 8” by 10” cardstock. A rare glimpse into the Pittsburg Sanitary Fair.
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Inventory Number: ALB 242