Grand Army of the Republic, Woman’s Relief Corps and Sons of Veterans, U.S.A.
General Orders (1888-1912)
.84 linear feet (2 manuscript boxes)
National organization formed in 1883 at Denver, Colorado after the Chaplain in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, J.F. Lovering had called attention, in 1881 to the need for a women’s auxiliary with the purpose of caring “for the Veteran and his dependent ones and perpetuate the memory of their heroic dead” Shortly after the formation of the Grand Army of the Republic, women in several states formed groups, with differing names, to assist veterans. Then in 1881, the G.A.R. formed a committee to organize the groups into a National Woman’s Relief Corps that could “use the words ‘Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic’”. In 1883 the auxiliaries that existed met at the G.A.R. Denver Encampment, elected E. Florence Barker of Massachusetts as the first chairman, and adopted the Name, Ritual, Rules, Regulation and Work, written and unwritten. Corps formed rapidly around the country, and they worked and raised money to help the veterans, their widows and children and old army nurses in need. In 1888 they passed a resolution for a home that was established in Madison Ohio for Army nurses, widows, mothers and daughters of soldiers and was supported solely by the Corps. They worked diligently for pension benefits to be given to the nurses who had served in the Civil War. Annie Wittenmyer, who had served as a nurse for the Army and was a national president of the Corps, was largely responsible for obtaining that benefit for nurses. As old soldiers died off, the corps found other ways to help. In 1899 they raised funds to help fight the yellow fever epidemic inFlorida. They raised funds for victims of the Johnstown Flood, the San Francisco earthquake, the hurricane at Galveston, and floods and tornadoes. They also were involved in educating the children of veterans and helped raise money for scholarships and student loans. They believed in educating children in patriotism and pushed for the Pledge of Allegiance and the flag salute to be done in every schoolroom, every day. They gave flags to countless schools and schoolrooms. They petitioned to have standing during the playing of the National Anthem and during WWI they pushed to have all languages but English outlawed. The national headquarters moved each year to the home city of the elected president but in 1941, the Corps decided to give itself a permanent headquarters in Springfield, Illinois. Although it has moved from the original site, the headquarters remains there today.
General orders issued from the national president and from various cities around the country and from the Illinois president. Give news and information regarding members and the veterans, any activities supported by the Corps, uses of funds, who and how helped, changes in the organizational structure and function, and information on the annual conventions. Frequently includes an inspirational message to urge the continued support, financially and otherwise, of the members. Circulars, mainly from Illinois, usually pertain to a special cause or give a special announcement. Also includes General Orders for the Sons of Union Veterans, 1891-1897.
Access: Open for Research
Acc. No. 1971, 83-76
Processed by: Connie Butts, September 2002
Grand Army of the Republic Page 2
Women’s Relief Corps and Sons of Veterans,U.S.A.
1 1 Sons of Veterans, U.S.A.-Division of Illinois: General Orders; Commandery-in-
2 Women’s Relief Corps-Department General Orders-1888-1891
3 Women’s Relief Corps-Department General Orders-1892-1895
4 Women’s Relief Corps-Department General Orders-1896-1899
2 1 Women’s Relief Corps-Department General Orders-1900-1906
2 Women’s Relief Corps-Department General Orders-1907-1912