They fight, but we must weep
For our boys that are gone and dead,
God send the sleep we cannot sleep
To every soldier s bed!

I was at the New York Public Library yesterday reading through issues of The Spirit of the Fair, the newspaper published during the Metropolitan Fair of April 1864. The fair was held by the Union League Club and U.S. Sanitary Commission, effectively the same thing, in April 1864 as a fundraiser for The Sanitary. The lines above are an excerpt from a poem published in the newspaper. Here are a few photos I took along the way.

They are available electronically but there is nothing like holding the real thing in your hands. The issues have held up quite well and show no signs of yellowing. I’m sure they used rag paper and not newspaper pulp.

The provenance of how these types of materials reach libraries and archives is a fascinating story in and of itself. The Reverend Henry Bellows donated the Sanitary Commission papers to NYPL around 1890. As we can see here, this item arrived independent of Bellows’s gift.

I love the stamp. That said, there were no “best practices” in the late nineteenth century to tell conservators not to mark up historical items. The ad for the Complete Works of Washington Irving is a nice touch. These books and other items were on sale at the fair, with the proceeds going to soldiers’ relief.