Massachusetts-Halifax Relief Committee Records, 1917-1919

Permanent URI for this collection

This collection documents the efforts of the Massachusetts Halifax Relief Committee to offer assistance to Halifax, Nova Scotia after a destructive explosion in 1917. On December 6, 1917, a tremendous explosion occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that was the result of a collision in the harbor between two ships, one carrying compounds used in explosives. The disaster caused great destruction and loss of life. Almost all buildings within one half mile of the harbor were leveled, and those within a one mile zone were badly damaged. There were 1,800 people killed, 3,000 seriously wounded, and 10,000 more in need of medical attention. Property losses from the explosion were estimated at above $30,000,000. The news reached the State House in Boston at 11:00 a.m. on December 6, and Governor Samuel W. McCall immediately sent a telegram to the Mayor of Halifax offering unlimited assistance. He also called a meeting of the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee to take action concerning the relief work. A train with doctors, nurses and medical supplies was sent that night to Halifax. On December 14, the unit left Halifax for Boston and on the trip home formed the Massachusetts-Halifax Relief Committee. Their goal was to raise money from the citizens of Massachusetts to be used to help those who had lost furnishings and belongings to refurnish their homes. A sum of $500,000 was raised for this effort. Over 1800 homes were refurnished and $25,000 was also spent for the care and education of the numerous people who were blinded in the explosion.