Clara Barton: A Great Humanitarian

Quck answer

Clara Barton was an American nurse, teacher, and humanitarian. She is most well-known for founding the American Red Cross in 1881. Barton dedicated her life to helping others, particularly during times of war and disaster. She served as a nurse during the Civil War, providing care to wounded soldiers on the front lines. After the war, she worked to identify missing soldiers and reunite them with their families. Barton’s efforts in providing aid and relief to those in need established her as a pioneer in the field of humanitarian work. Her legacy continues to inspire and guide the work of the American Red Cross today.

Clarissa “Clara” Barton was born on December 25th, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts. She is widely recognized in the United States for her outstanding humanitarian work.

Barton’s journey in assisting the sick started during her childhood. Her brother David was her first patient when he fell from a rafter in their family barn at the age of 11. Barton dedicated three years to taking care of him and learning how to administer his medications.

Clara Barton was a true trailblazer in many aspects. Despite the majority of teachers being men at that time, she pursued a career in teaching. Later on, she became one of the first women to work for the federal government.

In 1861, the American Civil War began, and Barton was residing in Washington, D.C. She worked as a clerk in the United States Patent Office. She soon realized that the young soldiers of the war were in desperate need of various forms of assistance, such as medical supplies and food.

Barton didn’t wait for others to act. Instead, she took matters into her own hands by collecting essential items. She appealed to the public for donations and learned how to store and distribute them to the soldiers. Barton provided additional support by reading to the soldiers, writing letters for them, and offering prayers.

Soon, Barton discovered that there were even more critical needs on the battlefields. She sought permission from government and military leaders to bring her volunteer services and supplies to the areas where they were most needed.

Eventually, Barton received permission. After the 1862 Battle of Cedar Mountain, she arrived at a field hospital in Virginia with a wagon full of supplies, at midnight. A grateful surgeon from that hospital later described her as an angel, stating, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out a[n]… angel, she must be one—her assistance was so timely.”

From that point on, Barton became known as “the angel of the battlefield.” She fearlessly served soldiers amidst the most brutal battles of the Civil War, often risking her own life. She was willing to travel to the front lines, even during the height of battle.

In 1869, Barton traveled to Europe where she learned about the International Committee of the Red Cross. Upon her return to the United States in 1881, she established the American Red Cross. Her vision for the organization was to provide aid during natural disasters and wars.

For the next 23 years, Barton led the American Red Cross. She always went where the need was greatest. In 1896, she traveled to Istanbul to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the Ottoman Empire. Additionally, she established the first American International Red Cross headquarters in Beijing, China.

Barton even worked in hospitals in Cuba when she was 77 years old! Her final field mission as president of the American Red Cross was to assist the victims of the 1900 Galveston hurricane. She did not retire from the American Red Cross until the age of 83.

Today, the American Red Cross carries on Barton’s mission. With the help of thousands of volunteers, it provides aid to disaster victims and aids in preventing, preparing for, and responding to emergencies. Many individuals find it to be a rewarding place to volunteer their time and efforts.

Give It a Try

Ready to continue your learning journey? Enlist the assistance of a friend or family member to participate in the activities provided below.

  • Explore more information about the Red Cross. What was your prior knowledge about this organization? What new information did you acquire? Summarize the five most captivating facts you discovered about the Red Cross and share them with a friend or family member.
  • Clara Barton didn’t wait for others to make a difference. She recognized the needs within her community and took action to instigate change. What changes can you make in your own community? Begin by compiling a list of the needs you are aware of in your area. Seek the guidance of an adult friend or family member for assistance. Then, discuss potential ways in which you can contribute. Explore volunteer opportunities that your family can partake in to make a positive impact.
  • Does your family possess a home first aid kit? Familiarize yourself with the importance of preparedness for emergencies. Subsequently, engage in a conversation with a family member regarding the supplies that are already present in your home. Collaborate on creating a plan to enhance your first aid kit by adding necessary items.

Sources of Wonder

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