A group of eastern Massachusetts women organized the Soldiers' Relief Society of Haverhill and Bradford on April 22, 1861, at the North Congregational Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The group was non-denominational, and had representatives from thirteen different churches on its Board of Directresses. Its first officers were Sophia Hill, President; May E. Noyes, Vice President; and Elizabeth C. Fletcher, Secretary and Treasurer.
Initially, members of the Society focused their efforts on providing uniforms and blankets for the over 1300 soldiers who had enlisted from the area, mainly in the 7th, 35th, and 50th Massachusetts Infantries. Starting in 1862, they expanded their purview, contributing food, bedding, and some medical supplies, and adding a knitting circle. They also raised funds by holding festivals and selling cakes and apples. Active until the end of the war, they contributed thousands of sheets, blankets, socks, bandages, and several tons of foodstuffs to the Union war effort.