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[659] brought immediate returns in thousands of most needed garments. One porter was the only person permanently hired. Occasionally, in times of great pressure, extra help was needed and had; but this was an insignificant item of expense. The work was done by volunteers, almost entirely ladies, who, entering into it at that early period when its magnitude was not at all foreseen, yet accepted the great increase of labor, month by month, to the end. Some of them, who opened the office in 1861, and helped to unpack the first boxes contributed, stood by until the end, sent off the last consignment of supplies, and closed the doors on the completed work. They were not only originators and supervisors, but packers, purchasing agents, book-keepers, and clerks in every variety of detail; and they carried on the office work and the system of book-keeping in a manner to elicit the most favorable comment from gentlemen whose business knowledge made them competent critics.

It was pleasant indeed to enter the spacious office at 22 Summer Street, on some of the dark days when defeat and disaster seemed to reign abroad, and to find there a score of resolute women, unpacking, assorting, stamping, repacking, invoicing, and forwarding those goods that were to assuage terrible suffering, perchance to bring back the life that seemed almost to have gone. And all this was done so quietly, so systematically, with so little thought of self in the doing, that the spectator knew that those women, young, gay and thoughtless as many of them might otherwise have been, had caught the spirit of their time, had recognized the terrible issues involved, and had accepted gladly a share, however small, in the great work, as the best opportunity that had ever come to them.

Nor let the women outside of Boston be forgotten. Hundreds of them, in societies or acting individually, enlisted in the work on the first day of its existence, and continued in it until the end. By constant correspondence with the Boston headquarters, they kept themselves informed of the probable requirements, and so were able to anticipate the need in the timely preparation of supplies. So thorough and cordial was the understanding between the branch societies and the acting

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1861 AD (1)
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