Clara Barton Chronology 1821-1860
December 25, 1821
Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born in North Oxford, Massachusetts, the youngest of Stephen and Sarah Stone Barton’s five children.
1825 - 1836
Clara Barton gained an education at local schools and through home tutoring from her older brothers and sisters.
1833 - 1835
Miss Barton cared for her brother David Barton, who was injured and bedridden following a fall from a barn roof.
Noted English phrenologist L. N. Fowler advised Clara Barton’s parents to have her teach school.
Miss Barton passed examinations and began a teaching career in the schools near Oxford, Massachusetts.
Miss Barton established a school for the children of her brother’s mill workers.
April 19, 1846
Clara Barton’s sister, Dorothea (Dolly) Barton, died.
1850 - 1851
Miss Barton spent a year furthering her own education at the Clinton Liberal Institute, Oneida County, New York.
July 18, 1851
Clara Barton’s mother, Sarah Barton, died.
Miss Barton travelled to Hightstown, New Jersey to visit Mary Norton, a school friend. Miss Barton resumed her teaching career.
1852 - 1854
Miss Barton established the first free public school in Bordentown, New Jersey. Enrollment grew rapidly and a male principal was hired. Miss Barton left Bordentown and the teaching profession.
1854 - 1855
Miss Barton moved to Washington, DC, and worked as a recording clerk at the U. S. Patent Office for Charles Mason, the Commissioner of Patents. Her salary, $1,400 per anum, equalled those of the men she worked with.
The status of female government workers was never a certainty. Secretary of the Interior Robert McClelland of the Pierce administration was opposed to women working in government offices and reduced Miss Barton to a copyist at the rate of 10 cents per each 100 words copied.
1857 - 1860
Miss Barton returned to Massachusetts and lived with relatives and friends after her position at the Patent Office was eliminated by the administration of President James Buchanan.
She returned to her former Patent Office position as a copyist with the election of President Abraham Lincoln.
Did You Know?
Clara Barton is probably the most famous American nurse who was never a real nurse. She cared for wounded soldiers in the Civil War and as President of the American Red Cross she organized over 18 relief efforts, but she was a former school teacher and government clerk.