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About the Collection
The Union League of Philadelphia Archives, Group II: Standing Committees, Series 6: Board of Publications
Founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln, The Union League of Philadelphia (Union League) laid the philosophical foundation of other Union Leagues across a nation torn by Civil War. The Union League supported the Union cause in various ways, from raising troops and funds to publishing propaganda pamphlets distributed throughout the country.
The Board of Publication first met on February 26, 1863, “for the purpose of printing and circulating useful information,” and to “disseminate patriotic literature.” It was intended to build and maintain the energy, enthusiasm, and pro-Union opinion of loyal Americans as well as to encourage the northern armed forces. For decades, pamphlets were used as a means to quickly, and with modest means, disseminate information, and were frequently used for propaganda purposes.
Many of the pamphlets published by the Union League had no reference to the publisher inside in order to avoid destruction or confiscation by southern supporters. Other pamphlets were cleverly disguised to get through enemy lines. The Planter’s Almanac for 1864 appeared to be a standard almanac, but also contained pro-Union propaganda aimed at encouraging Confederate soldiers to desert. Pamphlets were sent across the country to many cities, Union Leagues, hospitals, and military outposts. By October 1868, 4.5 million copies of 145 pamphlets and 44 lithographs and posters were created and distributed.
The Board of Publication material is part of The Union League of Philadelphia Archives under the stewardship of The Abraham Lincoln Foundation of The Union League of Philadelphia (ALF).
The Abraham Lincoln Foundation of The Union League (ALF) is a 501(c)3, founded in 1996 to enhance, maintain and exhibit the historic collections of the Union League, and to use the League’s collections to conduct educational programs for League members, scholars, students and the general community. The ALF presents exhibits, lectures, and other educational programs that focus on the history and heritage of the Union League and the Civil War. These programs reach thousands of students and scholars each year. The collections are available for research through the Heritage Center, an 8,500 square-foot research, program and exhibit space on the ground floor of the Union League.