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 Clara Barton

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Clara Barton

Original Name Clarissa Harlowe Barton
Birth
North Oxford, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 12 Apr 1912 (aged 90)
Glen Echo, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA
Burial Oxford, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 63 View Source
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Social Reformer. She was the founder of the American Red Cross, and earned the nickname of the "Angel of the Battlefield" for her monumental efforts to treat the wounded soldiers during the American Civil War. Born on Christmas Day on a farm near Oxford, Massachusetts, she became a teacher and a government worker before heading off to nurse the wounds of soldiers on bloody civil war battlefields. She was so close to the front lines at the September of 1862 Battle of Antietam that a bullet passed through her clothes and killed the wounded soldier she was tending. After a prisoner of war brought her a list of dead soldiers from the legendary Andersonville Confederate prison camp in Georgia, she became an advocate for soldiers missing in action. Nearly 13,000 of 45,000 confined Union soldiers died of disease, filth, starvation and exposure due to the lack of supplies and the over-populated facility. Thanks to her work, Barton was able to return to Andersonville and mark the graves of thousands of soldiers, and later published a list of their names. Once people realized she had found dead soldiers, she started receiving thousands of letters from wives, mothers and daughters. As Director of the Federal Missing Persons Office, Barton became the first woman to manage a government bureau, receiving $15,000 in congressional appropriations and working with her own staff. As a woman in the 19th century, she had met career hardships, being ignored in promotion for men, who, at times were less qualified than she was. She and her small staff received over 63,000 requests for help and were able to locate over 22,000 men, some of whom were still alive. In 1868 she went to Europe and among the many things she did was to visit Switzerland to learn about an organization called the International Red Cross Committee. Each member wore a badge of a red cross on a white background, and on the battlefield the men who wore the badges were always welcome as they brought medical relief for the wounded. She also did battlefield nursing during the Franco-Prussian War. Returning to the United States, she began to work toward forming the organization that became the American Red Cross. The government agreed to permit such an organization. Barton was the first president and served as its head for twenty-two years. Responding to natural disasters, she was there to help at the 1889 Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania and the Galveston Hurricane of 1890. With a membership number of 160, she was one of the earliest members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Clara Barton's life finally came to an end when she reached the age of ninety-one.


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