Clara Barton

Clara Barton
Clara Barton

Library of Congress

Clarissa "Clara" Harlowe Barton was born in New Oxford, Massachusetts on December 25, 1821. She began caring for others at the young age of eleven, after her brother David was injured building a barn. She began teaching at age fifteen.

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and served as the first president.

During the Civil War, she gathered medicine and supplies for the wounded and tended to them, crossing battle lines to do so. This earned her the nickname "Angel of the Battlefield."

Barton was sixty-seven years old when she came to Johnstown after the flood. This was the chapter's first big relief effort. Barton boarded a train in Washington, DC and arrived in Johnstown via the B&O Railroad just five days after the flood. Upon her arrival, she immediately got to work with her team of fifty doctors and nurses.

Barton established hospitals in town and built six Red Cross hotels that would house and feed flood survivors. The hotels were equipped with running water; both hot and cold, kitchens, and laundries.

She would be in town until she felt there was nothing more the organization could do. When all was said and done, Barton and her team left Johnstown that October, after having stayed in town for five months. The Red Cross gave out nearly half a million dollars in supplies and money.

"...To her timely and heroic work, more than to that of any other human being, are the people of the Conemaugh Valley indebted..." -part of the inscription on a diamond locket presented to Clara Barton from the people of Johnstown.

Clara Barton served as president of the American Red Cross until 1904. She died in Glen Echo, on April 12, 1912. Her home, Clara Barton National Historic Site, is part of the National Park Service.
The interior of a Red Cross hotel with a woman seated at a table.
The dining room of a Red Cross Hotel in Johnstown.

Library of Congress

Last updated: October 12, 2022

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