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“It irritates me to be told how things always have been done ... I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”
Clara Barton
Humanitarian, 1821 - 1912

Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born on December 25, 1821 in North Oxford, Massachusetts. She was the youngest of five children. In her long career of public service Miss Barton was successively a teacher, battlefield nurse, lecturer, and finally organizer and president of the American Red Cross.

As a child Clara played nurse, taking care of pets that were sick or injured. When she was eleven her brother fell from a barn roof and Clara nursed him throughout a two-year convalescence. During the American Civil War Clara was a battlefield nurse. She delivered medical supplies and food, staying with the wounded until they were carried to safety. She was called the “Angel of the battlefield.”

When the war ended in 1865, Barton established an information center that served war-torn families, located missing soldiers and identified and marked thousands of unmarked graves.

Miss Barton volunteered for the International Red Cross (IRC) while on a trip to Europe in 1870. She helped refugees of the Franco-Prussian War in Paris and other cities. She returned to America in 1873, and in 1877 IRC authorities invited her to establish an American Red Cross. For the next 23 years, Barton organized and led the Red Cross, personally leading many relief expeditions to victims of forest fire, flood, hurricane and war. In 1904, at age 82, she resigned her post.

Barton spent the remaining years of her life at Glen Echo, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., where she died in 1912 at the age of 91. Her body was taken back to Oxford, Massachusetts for burial. Clara Barton will be remembered for her strong leadership of the American Red Cross, and her great philanthropic accomplishments throughout her life.

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Books About Clara Barton

A Woman of Valor A Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War
by Stephen B. Oates

Oates draws on new archival material to tell the story of Clara Barton's Civil War experiences as a nurse and the extraordinary lengths she went to care for the sick and wounded under hellish conditions.

Purchase this hardcover edition of A Woman of Valor

Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross
by Augusta Stevenson, Frank Giacoia (Illustrator)

One of the most popular series ever published for young Americans, these classics of childhood have been praised by parents, teachers, and libraries. The lively, inspiring, and believable biographies sweep today's young readers right into history. Illustrated throughout.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross

Clara Barton Online Videos

Clara Barton in's Women with Mojo Series

Clara Barton Tribute

May 21, 1881: American Red Cross founded

Related Websites

Clara Barton
Bio on the American Red Cross website

The Clara Barton Birthplace Museum
In North Oxford, Massachusetts

Clara Barton
The True Heroine of the Age

Clara Barton
The first official missing persons Investigator, by Barbara Maikell-Thomas

Clara Barton
At the Unitarian Universalist Association website

Profiles in Caring: Clara Barton

Clara Barton

Other Humanitarians in the Lucidcafé Library

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