Barton, Clara

Barton, Clara

Barton, Clara, 1821-1912, American humanitarian, organizer of the American Red Cross, b. North Oxford (now Oxford), Mass. She taught school (1839-54) and clerked in the U.S. Patent Office before the outbreak of the Civil War. She then established a service of supplies for soldiers and nursed in army camps and on the battlefields. She was called the Angel of the Battlefield. In 1865 President Lincoln appointed her to search for missing prisoners; the records she compiled also served to identify thousands of the dead at Andersonville Prison. In Europe for a conference at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870), she went to work behind the German lines for the International Red Cross. She returned to the United States in 1873 and in 1881 organized the American National Red Cross, which she headed until 1904. She worked successfully for the President's signature to the Geneva treaty for the care of war wounded (1882) and emphasized Red Cross work in catastrophes other than war. Among her writings are several books on the Red Cross.

See biographies by I. Ross (1956) and W. E. Barton (1969); S. B. Oates, A Woman of Valor (1994).

orig. Clarissa Harlowe

(born Dec. 25, 1821, Oxford, Mass., U.S.—died April 12, 1912, Glen Echo, Md.) U.S. nurse, founder of the American Red Cross. She attended the Liberal Institute at Clinton, N.Y. (1850–51). In 1852 she established a free school in Bordentown, N.J., that soon became so large that the townsmen would no longer allow a woman to run it. After resigning her post, she was employed by the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C. (1854–57, 1860). During the American Civil War she organized the distribution of medicine and supplies for soldiers wounded in the first Battle of Bull Run. She gained permission to pass through battle lines to distribute supplies, search for the missing, and nurse the wounded, becoming known as the “angel of the battlefield.” In 1865, at the request of Pres. Abraham Lincoln, she set up a bureau of records to aid in the search for missing men. While in Europe for a rest, she helped with relief work for victims of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and became associated with the International Red Cross. In 1881 she founded the American Red Cross. She lobbied Congress to sign the Geneva Convention (see Geneva Conventions), which provided for the treatment of the sick and wounded in battle and the proper handling of prisoners of war. She wrote the U.S. amendment to the constitution of the Red Cross, which provides for the distribution of relief not only in war but also during natural disasters. She served as president of the American Red Cross until 1904.

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Barton is an archaic English word meaning lands of the manor or meadow and may refer to several places or people:




Barton is also a common family name, most commonly derived directly from a location:


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