Clara Barton

Born 12/25/1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts
Died 4/12/1912 in Glen Echo, Maryland

Father: Stephen Barton (August 18 1774 - March 21 1862)
Mother: Sally Stone (November 13 1783 - 1851),
Spouse: None


Born on December 25, 1821, in Oxford, Massachusetts. Clara Clarton spent much of her life in the service of others and created an organization that still helps people in need today—the American Red Cross. A shy child, she first found her calling when she tended to her brother David after an accident. Barton found another outlet for her desire to be helpful as a teenager. She became a teacher and later opened a free public school in New Jersey. She moved to Washington, D.C., to work in the U.S. Patent Office as a clerk in the mid-1850s.

During the Civil War, Clara Barton sought to help the soldiers in any way she could. At the beginning, she collected and distributed supplies for the Union Army. Not content to sit on the sidelines, Barton served as an independent nurse and first saw combat in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1862. She also cared for soldiers wounded at Antietam. Barton was nicknamed “the angel of the battlefield” for her work.

After the war ended in 1865, Clara Barton worked for the War Department for a time helping to reunite missing soldiers and their families or at least find out more about those who were missing. She also became a lecturer and crowds of people came to her talk about her war experiences.

While visiting Europe, Clara Barton works with a relief organization known as the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871. Sometime after returning home to the United States, she began to lobby for an American branch of this international organization. The American Red Cross Society was founded in 1881 and Barton served as its first president. As its leader, Clara Barton oversaw assistance and relief work for the victims of such disasters as the 1889 Johnstown Flood and the 1900 Galveston Flood.

Clara Barton resigned from the American Red Cross in 1904 amid an internal power struggle and claims of financial mismanagement. While she was known to be an autocratic leader, she never took a salary from the organization and sometimes used her funds to support relief efforts.

After leaving the Red Cross, Clara Barton remained active, giving speeches and lectures. She also wrote a book entitled The Story of My Childhood, which was published in 1907. Barton died at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland, on April 12, 1912.

A&E Television 2007