American Philanthropist, Founder of the American Red Cross Society
1821 – 1912
Clara Barton, an American philanthropist, founder of the American Red Cross Society, born at Oxford, MA, was a teacher in early life, and the founder of various free schools in New Jersey.
During the Civil War she distributed large quantities of supplies for the relief of wounded soldiers; and at its close she organized at Washington a bureau of records to aid in the searching of missing men for whom inquiries were made. In connection with this work, she identified and marked the graves of more than twelve thousand soldiers in the National Cemetery at Andersonville, GA.
Upon the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, Miss Barton went to the seat of hostilities, and assisted members of the International Red Cross in organizing their military hospitals. In 1971 she superintended the distribution of relief to the poor of Strassburg, and later performed a like service in Paris.
Upon her return to the United States, she at once began her efforts to effect the organization of the American Red Cross Society. It was formed in 1881, and she was its president until about 1904. It was her suggestion that led to a change of rules, permitting Red Cross relief in other calamities than that of war. She superintended relief work in the yellow fever pestilence in Florida (1887), the Johnstown flood (1889, the Russian famine (1896), in the Spanish-American War (1898), and the Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1902). The last work of which she took personal direction was the relief of sufferers from the flood at Galveston, Texas, in 1900.
She was the recipient of decorations and honors from many European nations. In 1904 Clara Barton resigned the presidency of the American Red Cross, having brought it to a place of assured strength in the judgment and affections of the American people, accomplishing by a rare combination of noble impulses, clear brain and high executive ability, a work for her country and her age such as has been given to few few women to achieve.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.