Clara Barton Biography

(American Nurse Who Founded the American Red Cross)

Birthday: December 25, 1821 (Capricorn)

Born In: North Oxford, Oxford, Massachusetts, United States

Affectionately referred to as the ‘Angel of the Battlefield’, Clara Barton is the most respected woman in American history who offered tireless and dedicated services to wounded soldiers at the war front. This legendary war-nurse resigned from her government job during the American Civil war and set out to the dangerous front line of the war at a time when women were not allowed in the battlefields. She risked her own life to bring medical and food supplies to the wounded soldiers and saved the lives of countless soldiers who were injured in war. She founded the American Red Cross at the age of 60 and served as the President of the organization for a period of 23 years. She was one of the first American women to serve as a clerk in the U.S Patent Office and earn a remuneration that was equal to that of a man. She was an ardent woman’s rights activist and was part of the woman’s suffrage movement. She was also an African-American rights activist. The fact that at a time when women rarely ventured out of their home to work, Clara Barton dared to risk her life at the war front bears testimony to her courage and steadfastness.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Clarissa Harlowe Barton

Died At Age: 90


father: Stephen Barton

mother: Sarah Barton

siblings: David Barton, Dorothea, Sally Barton Vassall, Stephen

Quotes By Clara Barton Nurses

Died on: April 12, 1912

place of death: Glen Echo, Maryland, United States

Cause of Death: Pneumonia

U.S. State: Massachusetts

Founder/Co-Founder: American Red Cross

Childhood & Early Life
Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born in Oxford, Massachusetts to Capt. Stephen Barton, a farmer and a selectman, and Sarah Stone.
Since the age of three, she had exceptional reading and spelling skills and attended the Col. Stones High School, but was a very shy kid.
She first found her calling as a nurse at the age of eleven, when she took care of her sick brother David, who miraculously recovered under her care even after doctors had given up.
In 1838, at the age of seventeen, she worked as a teacher in Massachusetts where she showed extraordinary skill in handling troublesome children.
In 1850, she attended the Clinton Liberal Institute in New York, where she studied writing and languages. Following her education, she set up a free school in New Jersey.
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In 1855, she shifted to Washington D.C., where she took up the job of a clerk in the US Patent Office. Here, her salary was equal to that of a man, which was uncommon in those days. After a brief period, the issue of appointment of a woman in government office faced strong opposition and hence her position was reduced to that of a copyist and she was later fired in 1856.
In 1861, she was again appointed to the US Patent Office and started serving as a temporary copyist and wished to grant more opportunities for women to work in the government offices.
By 1862, she obtained permission to work at the front lines of the battle field during the American Civil war and distributed first aid supplies to hospitals, camps and treated wounded soldiers on the field.
In 1864, she started serving as ‘lady in-charge’ at the behest of Union General, Benjamin Butler, at the hospitals located at the front of the Army of the James - the regiment that served along the James River, Virginia.
After the conclusion of the American Civil war, she worked at the Office of Missing Soldiers which was located at 437 Seventh Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C. The organisation tracked missing soldiers and reunited them with their families.
She soon started delivering lectures pertaining to her experiences during the war across the country and also became a part of the woman's suffrage movement and an African-American rights activist.
In 1869, she travelled to Europe during the Franco-Prussian War and worked with the International Red Cross, after which she wished to start the organisation in America.
In 1871, following the Siege of Paris, she worked relentlessly and took care of the public distribution of food and medical supplies to the poor and affected victims in Paris.
On May 21, 1881 she founded and became the president of the American branch of the Red Cross, known as the American National Red Cross. The first official meeting of the society was held at her apartment in Washington D.C.
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On August 22, 1882, the first local branch of the Red Cross was set up in Dansville, Livingston County, New York, where she owned a country home and also had many social connections.
In 1897, she travelled through sea to Constantinople and established the headquarters of the American International Red Cross in Turkey after obtaining official permission from Abdul Hamid II.
In 1896, she travelled to several parts of Armenia in order to provide the people with essential food supplies, medicine, humanitarian aid and other vital necessities.
In 1900, she tended to the people affected by the Galveston hurricane; this was her last work as the President of the American Red Cross. During this period she also set up a home for orphan children.
In 1904, she stepped down from the post of the President of The American Red Cross, after which she established the National First Aid Society.
Major Works
She founded the American Red Cross, which is a universally recognised humanitarian organisation of great repute. It makes available emergency assistance to victims in the U.S.A and is the 3rd most popular charity/non-profit organization in America.
Personal Life & Legacy
She chose not to marry all her life. However, it is speculated that she was romantically involved with a person named John J. Elwell.
She passed away at the age of 90 in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States.
In the year 1975, her home in Glen Echo was made into a historic site and was named the Clara Barton National Historic Site, the first National Historic Site dedicated to a woman.
This great American nurse and educator was so shy and timid in school that she had only one friend and was often so depressed that she would not eat in school.

See the events in life of Clara Barton in Chronological Order

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