A Guide to the Records of the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth, Richmond Relief Committee, 1855-1856 Commonwealth, Secretary of, Richmond Relief Committee, Records of the, 1855-1856 42349

A Guide to the Records of the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth, Richmond Relief Committee, 1855-1856

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 42349


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
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Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
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Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
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© 2006 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Jessie R. Robinson

The Library of Virginia
Accession Number
Records of the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth, Richmond Relief Committee, 1855-1856
.25 cu. ft. (1 box)
Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth, Richmond Relief Committee

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Records of the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth, Richmond Relief Committee, 1855-1856. Accession 42349, State government records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. 23219.

Acquisition Information

Acquisition information is unavailable.

Biographical/Historical Information

The Richmond Relief Committee formed as a result of the yellow fever outbreak in Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia during the summer of 1855. Brought to the area through infected mosquitoes found on a ship bound from St. Thomas, the disease ravaged the two cities, leaving up to one third of the population dead. Many residents fled inland to escape the epidemic, Richmond being one of several cities willing to harbor refugees. Since the disease had decimated the population, supplies, food, and manpower in the form of doctors, nurses, and gravediggers were in high demand. The Richmond Relief Committee, led by then Secretary of the Commonwealth, George W. Munford, operated as a clearinghouse for monetary donations and supplies. Meetings were held, during which committee members determined which charitable organizations and individuals received funds and supplies. Since the Richmond Relief Committee was led by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, it is unclear whether the committee operated as part of that office or as a separate entity. The records described here document the receipt and disbursement of funds donated by the general public, leaving uncertain whether state funds were involved as well. It appears that the committee was a short-lived entity, functioning only so long as people were in need of assistance.

Scope and Content

Correspondence and financial records from the Richmond Relief Committee, possibly part of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The correspondence contains letters of donation, as well as a few requests for monetary assistance made by citizens who fled the affected areas. The financial records, mostly receipts and vouchers, document the receipt and disbursement of the committee's funds. The committee used the donations to aid widowed women, care for orphaned refugees, and provide supplies such as food and coffins, to charitable organizations in Norfolk and Portsmouth. The material dates from August 1855, during the middle of the epidemic, to February 1856, four months after the outbreak had ceased.


This collection is arranged into the following series:

Series I. Correspondence, 1855-1856 Series II. Financial records, 1855-1856

Contents List

Series I. Correspondence, 1855-1856.
Box: 1
Extent: 2 folders.

Comprised mostly of letters offering monetary donations. Money was sent by various civic groups, churches, and individuals from all social and economic classes, interested in helping those in need in the areas ravaged by yellow fever. In a few cases, the correspondence involves requests for monetary assistance for those who fled and were living as refugees. The correspondence is arranged chronologically by the date of answer written on the front of each letter. If this date is not present, the letter is filed according to the date it was written.

  • Box 1
    Folder 1
    August-September, 1855
  • Box 1
    Folder 2
    October 1855-February 1856
Series II. Financial Records, 1855-1856.
Box: 1
Extent: 4 folders.

Comprised of vouchers and receipts that document donations received, as well as the disbursement of those funds to various individuals and other charitable organizations operating in the areas affected by yellow fever. Also included is a small booklet that serves as an account ledger for the committee's funds. The financial records are arranged chronologically, but also by the number printed on the front of each voucher. If no number is present, the receipts and vouchers can be found in the folder marked "Miscellaneous."

  • Box 1
    Folder 3
    Receipt and disbursement booklet, 1855
  • Box 1
    Folder 4
    Vouchers, 1-69, September-October 1855
  • Box 1
    Folder 5
    Vouchers, 70-128, October 1855-February 1856
  • Box 1
    Folder 6
    Miscellaneous receipts and vouchers, 1855-1856