A nurse, humanitarian and an educator, the founder of the American Red Cross.
Born in Massachusetts, USA. At age 10 started practicing her nursing skills when she took care of her older brother after he fell from a roof and got severely injured, and even learned how to place leeches on his body.
To get over her shyness, Barton’s parents persuaded her to become a teacher. When she reached age 24, Barton founded a school for workers’ children and later established the first free school in New Jersey. When the school became successful, the board replaced her with a man, and Barton got demoted, so she quit.
Barton moved to Washington D.C, started working as a clerk in the US Patent office, she was the first woman appointed such a position in a federal office and got equally paid as her male colleagues. When the Civil war began, she decide to quit her job in order to support the Union soldiers. Barton distributed supplies and served as an independent nurse, and therefore received the nickname ‘The angel of the battlefield’.
After the war, Barton established the Office of Missing Soldiers, helping identify soldiers, reunite them with their families, or bring them to appropriate bury.
The office is still standing and became a museum.
While traveling in Europe, she learned about the International Red Cross, so when she came back to the US, Barton began lobbying and building support for an American branch of the organization.
In 1881 the American Red Cross was formed, and Barton was elected as its first president.
At the age of 83, after she was forced to resign from the Red Cross due to autocratic leadership, Barton founded the National First Aid Society.
Barton remained an activist for human rights as well as the woman’s suffrage movement, giving lectures until her last years. She also published an autobiography. The Clara Barton National Historic Site, established in 1975, was the first National Historic Site dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman.
“I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She volunteered the Red Cross in the Franco-Prussian War.
- Never got married, but had a great love with a married officer during the civil war.
- A statue of her build in Santiago after the Spanish–American War.
- Many schools, streets, and institutions in the USA are named after her.