Educational Commission Donations, Beverly 1860s

This document urges that readers donate clothing to the Clothing Comnittee of the Educational Commission. These donations are to be given to formally enslaved people as the government does not provide clothing as assistance.

The Hannah Rantoul Collection is part of a larger collection of items belonging to the Rantoul family of Beverly, Massachusetts. Hannah Rantoul served as a liaison for the New England Sanitary Commission in the Beverly area and received many letters from servicemen and their families, thanking her for her efforts to procure donations of provisions, clothing, blankets, and other badly needed supplies for various Massachusetts infantries during the Civil War.

Click here for a PDF of the transcription:

H. L. Rantoul

Educational Commission.

The Clothing Committee of the EDUCATIONAL COMMISSION ask your attention in behalf of the negroes who have been or may be emancipated by the operation of the war.

The object of our Society, as is generally understood, is to help negroes who have been slaves to live as free men, and to alleviate the sufferings consequent upon such transition.  Of this great object the Society and the Government agents with whom we have acted, have never lost sight.

In the case of those negroes who have been abandoned by their masters, and especially of fugitives who come naked and starving into our lines, the first thing to be done is to feed and clothe them before any other plans for their future are thought of.  The Government has always freely furnished food, but the providing of clothing has been left to private charity.  Though with these destitute ones everything has been turned to account, insomuch that the woman who could get an old salt-bag to tie around the body with a bit of rope, has been considered well off, many thousands are now without any adequate protection from the season, and these not only undergo great misery, but are not in a state to seek the work by which they might better their condition. 

The funds of our Society have been taxes to the utmost to meet this want; but notwithstanding the very large quantities of clothing contributed by friends in Massachusetts and other parts of New England, the same or perhaps a greater want remains to be relieved, since the number of negroes who seek freedom within the territory protected by the military power of the Government is steadily augmenting.

As regards the negroes of Port Royal and the Sea Islands, who were the first for whom a call of this nature was made, we are assured by Gen. Saxton, the military Governor of South Carolina, that they are no longer in need of charity of any kind, as they have become entirely self-supporting.

The condition of the freed slaves in Virginia and North Carolina is, for obvious reasons, not so happy.  We have received applications for assistance from Fortress Monroe, Craney Island, Newbern, &c., and att the West already many thousands are needing aid.  We intend always to keep ourselves in communication with the energetic and humane superintendents appointed by the Government at these posts, in order to supply the need wherever it may be greatest.

Under these circumstances the Clothing Committee of the Educational Commission appeal for help to the humane of New England.  The increased price of new materials precludes all expectation of large contributions in that way.  Cloth of any kind of sufficient strength and warmth to reward the making up, and cast-off clothes of every description for men, women and children, provided that the same be not worn out, are very much needed.  Mere finery, old cotton clothes so much worn as to tear on a slight strain, hoop-skirts, bonnets and unserviceable shoes, are not desired.  Those who wish to assist us, and cannot afford to buy new materials, will perhaps take the trouble of hunting through garretts and closets for old chintz curtains or furniture covers, which can readily be converted into excellent sacks and skirts for women and children. 

Both winter and summer clothing will always be acceptable, and we beg all who are warmly interested in this object to send us from time to time such articles as they think suitable, without any further application.

It is proper to state that the administration of the Society which is represented in part by this Committee, is conducted with the strictest regard to economy.  No salaries are paid to any of its officers, the work of making up garments is done gratuitously, and the kindness of Wellingtton, Gross & Co. gives us a place in their warehouse for the reception of our supplies, which are forwarded from New York in Government vessels free from expense to the Society.  Those, therefore, who may choose to give money, may be certain that the whole sum will go directly to the object in which they are interested.

Articles contributed should be directed to Wellington, Gross & Co., 103 103 Devonshire St., Boston, for the Clothing Committee, and a list sent, if convenient, to Mrs. Wm. B. Rogers, Boston.

In conclusion, the Committee earnestly solicit those who may read this, and may wish to assist in the generous objects to which it relates, to endeavor to interest as many as they can in the same, and where possible to form associations for the purpose, remembering that the contribution of such articles as have been specified can in no way interfere with the great interest which we all have at heart,the relief of our sick and wounded soldiers – applying to ourselves, at this momentous time, those words of our Lord, “These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

H. L. CABOT, 11 Park Square SARAH D. LANE, 623 Tremont St.

GEORGE ATKINSON, 60 State St. EMMA ROGERS, 1 Temple Place.

GEORGE S. WINSLOW, 53 Congress St.


H.L. Cabot and Sarah D. Lane, George Atkinson, Emma Rogers, and George S. Winslow, “Educational Commission”. Endicott Collection: Rantoul Family Papers, 1773-1915. Historic Beverly, Beverly, MA.