In 1862, a group of men and women came together in Norristown to find a way to support the Union Army. They called themselves the “Army Aid Society.” According to its constitution, the society’s purpose was to supply “articles of comfort and convenience to the volunteers from Montgomery County who have enlisted in the Army.”
The Historical Society has a collection of the Army Aid Society’s minutes, correspondence, and lists of donors.
Groups like the Army Aid Society sprang up all over the country during the Civil War. Most were called “Ladies’ Aid Societies,” and Norristown’s Army Aid Society was dominated by women who seemed to have held all the leadership positions in the organization.
The day to day work of the society was to raise money and make clothes and food to send to the soldiers.
Also part of this collection is a scrapbook of envelopes printed during the Civil War. More colorful and patriotic than modern envelopes, these creative designs resulted from the new postal rate that allowed letters of up to one half of an ounce to be mailed for three cents (according to National Geographic). Prior to that, the Post Office charged by the sheet, so no one used envelopes. With all the men leaving their homes for the war, tens of thousands of Americans were now buying envelopes.
Many of the envelopes have political cartoons:
Others were more colorful:
The minute book for the Army Aid Society, covers the entire existence of the society. In May, 1865, the group recorded its resolutions on the death of President Lincoln.
A month later, the group disbanded. The Union had been saved.