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Author photo. Mathew Brady Collection <br>(Defense Visual Information Center, <br>War and Conflict CD Collection, <br>ID: HDSN9901874)

Mathew Brady Collection
(Defense Visual Information Center,
War and Conflict CD Collection,
ID: HDSN9901874)

Clara Barton (1821–1912)

Author of A Story of the Red Cross

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Clara Barton was born Clarissa Harlowe Barton in North Oxford, Massachusetts, to a large family of educators. One of the central experiences of her early life was nursing her brother David back to health after he was severely injured in a fall. In 1838, she became a teacher, and later found funding to open a new, free public school in Bordentown, New Jersey, although she was denied the job of principal because she was a woman. She moved to Washington, D.C., where she was working as a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office at the start of the Civil War. She helped organize food, clothing, and medical supplies for soldiers on behalf of organizations such as the U.S. Sanitary Commission, and then badgered government and military officials to allow her to attend soldiers on the battlefields and in field hospitals. She became known as the "Angel of the Battlefield" as she nursed, comforted, and cooked for the sick and wounded. With the express orders of President Abraham Lincoln, she established the Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army and helped identify more than 22,000 missing men. At the end of her Civil War service, she helped establish a national cemetery around the graves of the thousands of Union men who had died in the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia. After the war, she visited Europe and was introduced to the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. She read A Memory of Solferino, a book written by Henry Dunant, founder of the global Red Cross, who called for international agreements to protect the sick and wounded during wartime, later known as the Geneva Convention. She fought for ratification of the treaty by the USA. She founded the American Red Cross, which came to provide disaster relief as well as wartime services for the U.S. population. She published her autobiography The Story of My Childhood, in 1907.
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