Board of Relief, 1861-1865


The Board of Relief account books, applications, minutes, and correspondence have been digitized and made accessible on PA Power Library as part of the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) funded project, In Her Own Right

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On May 15, 1861 the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a law that created a board of relief for the support of the families of volunteer soldiers for the duration of the “current hostilities”.

The law gave the county a great deal of latitude in determining who should receive assistance and how much assistance they would receive. Unfortunately there are no extant records which indicate the specific criteria established for this county. From the records that do exist the following people would be eligible for relief: mother, father, brother(s), sister(s), children (under the age of 13), wife. However there seem to be exceptions and in some instances, aunts and grandparents were supported.

In each township, committees of relief were established to determine which families within the townships needed relief. They would then submit their lists to the Board of Relief who would determine the amount of relief owed each family.

The following records were created during this process:

Dockets - Account books that track the amount paid out to each family receiving support. They typically provide the name, rank and unit of the soldier. Occasionally entries will indicate the birth or death of a child, funeral expenses and comments regarding the disposition of the case.

Applications - Submitted by the families to the township committees for consideration. They typically include name, occupation, rank and unit of the soldier, list of all dependents and their ages.

Miscellaneous Papers (MP) - Letters, pay stubs and notes that were kept by both the township committees and the Board of Relief.