Clara Barton Chronology 1821-1860 - Clara Barton NHS

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.

May 1839

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.

October 1851

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.

Fall 1860

She returned to her former Patent Office position as a copyist with the election of President Abraham Lincoln.

Forward to Clara Barton Chronology 1861 - 1869

Forward to Clara Barton Chronology 1870 - 1912

Last updated: April 10, 2015

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

700 George Washington Memorial Parkway Headquarters
McLean, VA 22101


301 320-1400

Contact Us