Skip to main content

Clara Barton

(1821 - 1912)

Clarissa Harlowe Barton, known widely as Clara Barton, was born on December 25, 1821, in Oxford, Massachusetts. A pioneering nurse, humanitarian, and educator, she is most renowned for founding the American Red Cross. Barton began her professional life as a teacher, even opening her own free school in New Jersey. However, her life took a pivotal turn with the outbreak of the American Civil War, during which she dedicated herself to aiding soldiers on the front lines, earning her the nickname "Angel of the Battlefield."

Her civil war service included organizing the collection and distribution of supplies for wounded soldiers, an effort she undertook with tireless zeal. After the war, Barton led a campaign to identify and properly bury thousands of Union soldiers who had died in the notorious Andersonville prison camp. Her efforts in tracing missing soldiers and reuniting families marked a significant contribution to the postwar healing process.

Barton's staunch advocacy for the acceptance of the Geneva Convention led to the establishment of the American Red Cross in 1881, which she led for 23 years. Under her leadership, the organization expanded its service to include not just war victims but also those suffering from natural disasters.

After leaving the Red Cross in 1904, Barton continued her humanitarian work until her death on April 12, 1912. Her legacy endures in the continued global efforts of the Red Cross and in the broader narrative of American history as a trailblazer for women in public service.

Short Stories member since April 2024