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Ask a Genealogist: Researching the USCC in the Civil War.

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My husband's great-grandfather was in the Mass. Christian Commission during the Civil War. I can't find anything about where they went to serve. I also don't have his journal or number that was assigned to him. Where did the Mass. unit of the Christian Commission serve in the Civil War?


Reply by Alice Kane, NEHGS Genealogist

Thank you for your query about the Massachusetts ChristianCommission, a state division of the United States ChristianCommission (USCC).

An overview history of the USCC appears in Wikipedia(URL: Many persons serving with the USCC were Protestant ministersand members of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) whoworked collaboratively with the U.S. Sanitary Commission (anothercivilian relief organization) to provide supplies, medical servicesand religious literature to Union troops.  For anecdotalaccounts about the commission and its work, the MassachusettsHistorical Society (1154 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, 02215-3695;phone: 617-536-1608; web: holds thecollection "Civil War Correspondence, Diaries, and Journals" thatincludes the correspondence of Henry Mitchell Whitney who joinedthe USCC after his infantry service ended.  A guide to thiscollection is available at You may wish to use the National Union Catalog of ManuscriptCollections search portal at tolocate archive and library holdings of diaries and correspondenceof other USCC members, using the commission's name insidequotations as the search term.  The USCC is also mentioned incontemporary publications such William Schouler's AHistory of Massachusetts in the Civil War (E. P. Dutton& Co., 1868; digital edition at,and in modern works such as This Republic is Suffering:Death and the American Civil War (by Drew Gilpin Faust;Knopf, 2008).  The USCC itself commissioned a narrative reportof its activities:  The Annals of the United StatesChristian Commission by the Rev. Lemuel Moss (J. B.Lippincott & Co., 1868; digital edition at a chapter devoted to describing the activities of theirrepresentatives in the field that use selected excerpts from formalreports, journals and diaries.


For specific record resources that may mention your ancestor,look for the records of the YMCA organization to which he might bea member of, or an affiliating organization of the USCC like aspecific Christian denomination's relief group besides the YMCA. In the Boston area, records of the Young Men's ChristianAssociation of Greater Boston are held by  NortheasternUniversity (Archives and Special Collections, 92 Snell Library 360Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115; phone: 617-373-2351; with afinding aid at Records of the U.S. Sanitary Commission maycontain lists of where they provided services and by whom. These records are held by the New York Public Library'sManuscripts and Archives Division in the Humanities and SocialScience Library (Schwarzman Building, Brooke Russell Astor ReadingRoom, Third Floor, Room 328, Fifth Avenue at 42ndStreet, New York, NY 10018-2788; phone: (917)275-6975); the collection is identified under MssCol 3101,with a finding aid at




Posted by David Lambert at 01/22/2014 05:05:10 PM | 

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