Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Photograph by H. P. Osborne & Son, 1863. Unbound. The albumen photograph of Johanna Maria (Polly) Heckewelder is mounted on a card measuring approximately 2½“x 4”. The reverse contains a printed biography of Hekewelder under the title: “Great Western Sanitary Fair. / Cincinnati, December 21st, 1863.” The printing from the reverse of the card is visible through the thin albumin print. The card has some minor edgewear. In nice shape. Very good. Item #009500
Heckewelder was the first white child born with what is now the state of Ohio. She was the daughter of missionaries sent by the Moravian Church to convert the Delaware Indians. Born in 1781, at the age of 5 she was sent to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to attend what is now the Moravian Academy and later Moravian College after which she taught needlework at a girls’ school in Lititz. After she lost her hearing, Heckewelder returned to Bethlehem. There, with the coming of the Civil War, she founded the Ladies Relief Society of Freedmen's Aid to raise money for efforts to assist former slaves, and became something of a “tourist attraction,” receiving many visitors. As this card notes, “She loves the Soldier, and has sent this photograph, with her blessing, as her gift to the Great Western Sanitary Fair.”
Sanitary Fairs were civilian-organized bazaars and expositions that raised funds for the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) which was a private relief agency created by federal legislation to support the treatment and hospitalization of sick and wounded soldiers. By the end of November 1861, a branch was formed in Cincinnati. As a border city and transportation hub Cincinnati was perfectly situated to be a distribution center to Union troops and hospitals in the South. In 1863, the women of Cincinnati resolved to hold a fund-raising fair which would include balls, entertainments, and a bazaar. They put out a call for donations to be sold at the bazaar and were inundated with contributions. Historical items (Revolutionary War, founding father, and pioneer artifacts and letters) were especially popular as were scientific curiosities like meteorites, sculptures, paintings, and captured Confederate uniforms and weapons. Heckewelder cdvs were sold as of this effort.
A scarce Sanitary Fair souvenir. As of 2020, there are no other examples for sale in the trade. Although Rare Book hub reports no auction listings, at least one example has been sold on eBay. OCLC reports no institutional holdings, although an example is likely in the Great Western Sanitary Fair collection at the Filson Historical Society and Cincinnati Museum Center.