Moment #007: Civil War Aid

POSTED ON: May 13, 2019

An uncredited illustration of the first gathering of the Women's Central Association of Relief, appearing in "Frank Leslie's The Soldier in Our Civil War", Vol. 1 pg. 242

An uncredited illustration of the first gathering of the Women's Central Association of Relief, appearing in "Frank Leslie's The Soldier in Our Civil War", Vol. 1 pg. 242

1861

On April 29, the Women’s Central Association of Relief (WCAR) is founded at The Cooper Union to collect donations of items and funds for the comfort of Union soldiers. This would include training nurses to be deployed at military hospitals. Two months later the organization would be incorporated into the U.S. Sanitary Commission (USSC) as one of a number of federally-organized wartime relief efforts. Both the WCAR and the USSC would be dissolved in 1865.

Offices of the Sanitary Commission were located in the Foundation Building and quilt crafting for donating to Union soldiers was incorporated into the curriculum of the women's school. At least one such work survives.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.