Great Central Fair Buildings, Philadelphia


The Great Central (or Sanitary) Fair took place in Philadelphia in June 1864. The purpose of the fair, which featured art, craft, and historical exhibits, was to raise funds for the United States Sanitary Commission. This was a private organization during the American Civil War, which operated under the authority of the federal government to provide relief to soldiers and assistance to the Union army in matters relating to health and hygiene. The commission played a major role in mobilizing civilian support for the Union cause and represented the largest volunteer effort to that time in the United States. The commission’s Department of General Relief solicited donations from the public to purchase food, clothing, blankets, medicines, and other items for sick and wounded soldiers. This souvenir card, based on a chromolithograph of the exhibition grounds at Logan Square, was printed and sold at the fair. It shows the square from the northwest, with a view of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in the background. The original print was by James Fuller Queen, a Philadelphia lithographer and pioneer chromolithographer known for his attention to detail. Queen served in the Civil War militia in 1862–63. Peter S. Duval was one of the most prominent lithographers and printers of his day.

Last updated: September 12, 2013