Photograph of a blue and red checkerboard quilt, with a signed piece of cloth sewn into each square.

Sanitary Commission Quilt

When it was auctioned off at the Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia in 1864, this patriotic quilt may have raised a few hundred dollars. Today the signatures it bears makes it a priceless Who’s Who of Civil War history.

The 56 signatures include luminaries from all walks of public life. Politicians, including Lincoln and his cabinet, appear alongside well-known officers in the Union army, poets, authors and artists.

The U.S. Sanitary Commission hosted fairs in cities across the country for the benefit of United States soldiers in the field. Volunteers, primary women eager to do their part to support the war effort, raised nearly $25 million in money and supplies during the war.

Examine the Evidence: What was the symbolic significance of this quilt? Can you recall another time when famous figures advocated together for a cause?

Sanitary Commission Quilt

Featuring 56 signatures from politicians to poets, the U.S. Sanitary Commission auctioned this quilt to support nursing services for Civil War soldiers. Who are some of the famous–and now not-so-famous–people featured?

Protect Our History

The night of April 14, 1865, forever changed our national history. Together, Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service partner to protect the artifacts from that night. Through these objects, we can better understand how that single event transformed our nation. Give to Ford’s Theatre to help continue sharing the stories that shaped a nation.