Clara Barton (Teacher/Nurse/Humanitarian/Founder of the American Red Cross)
Clarissa Harlowe "Clara" Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a pioneer American teacher, nurse, and humanitarian. She is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross.
Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born on December 25, 1821, in Oxford, Massachusetts, to Stephen and Sarah Barton. She was the youngest of five children.
Clara's father was a farmer and horse breeder (who also served as a captain in the French and Indian Wars), while her mother Sarah managed the household. The two later helped found the first Universalist Church in Oxford.
As she continued to develop an interest in nursing, Clara may have drawn inspiration from stories of her great-aunt, Martha Ballard, who served the town of Hallowell (later Augusta), Maine, as a midwife for over three decades. Ballard helped deliver nearly one thousand infants between 1777 and 1812, and in many cases administered medical care in much the same way as a formally trained doctor of her era.
Barton then achieved widespread recognition by delivering lectures around the country about her war experiences. She met Susan B. Anthony and began a long association with the woman's suffrage movement. She also became acquainted with Frederick Douglass and became an activist for black civil rights, or an abolitionist.
When Clara Barton returned to the United States, she inaugurated a movement to gain recognition for the International Committee of the Red Cross by the United States government. When she began work on this project in 1873, most Americans thought the U.S. would never again face a calamity like the Civil War, but Barton finally succeeded during the administration of President James Garfield, using the argument that the new American Red Cross could respond to crises other than war.
Barton naturally became President of the American branch of the society, which was founded on May 21, 1881 in Dansville, N.Y.
This changed with the advent of the Spanish-American War during which it aided refugees and prisoners of war. In 1896, responding to the humanitarian crisis in the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the Hamidian Massacres, Barton sailed to Istanbul and after long negotiations with Abdul Hamid II, opened the first American International Red Cross headquarters in the heart of Beijing,China.
Barton herself traveled along with five other Red Cross expeditions to the Armenian provinces in the spring of 1896. Barton also worked in hospitals in Cuba in 1898 at the age of seventy-seven. Barton's last field operation as President of the American Red Cross was the relief effort for the victims of the Galveston hurricane of September 1900.
The operation established an orphanage for children of the 6,000 dead, helped to acquire lumber for rebuilding houses, and teamed with the New York World newspaper to accept contributions for the relief effort. As criticism arose of her management of the American Red Cross, plus her advancing age, Barton resigned as president in 1904, at the age of 83. On April 12, 1912 at the age of 90 she died in Glen Echo, Maryland with all her friends by her side.
Clara Barton on Wikipedia
Clara Barton Birthplace Museum
American Red Cross