The Sanitary Commission was founded at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 to promote clean and healthy living conditions in Union Army camps. The organization was primarily made up of women who volunteered and worked to coordinated their efforts during the war.
The Sanitary Commission provided staff for field hospitals, gave supplies to the soldiers, and educated the military and government on matters concerning health and proper sanitation. The organization also sent inspectors to military camps to supervise the set up of clean water supplies, latrines and cooking facilities. The group's volunteers helped evacuate wounded soldiers on the front lines and sewed blankets and uniforms for the soldiers. When soldiers returned home, the Sanitary Commission provided many of them with food, lodging and medical care. They helped returning soldiers to receive their benefits, pensions and back pay. The Sanitary Commission raised approximately $15 million to $25 million in donated supplies and $5 million in proceeds for the war during its existence.