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Barton, Clara

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years ago





Clarissa Harlowe Barton

Date of birth:

December 25, 1821

Place of birth:

Oxford, Massachusetts

Date of death:

April 12, 1912

Place of death:

Glen Echo, Maryland










Early life:

    Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born into the family of Captain Stephen and Sarah Stone Barton on December 25, 1821.  The youngest of five children, her education came from her two brothers and two sisters.  She was taught to read by Sally and Dolly at such an early age that she had "no knowledge of ever learning how to read."  By the time she was four years old she could easily spell complicated words.  Her brother Stephen taught her mathmatics and her brother David began to teach her how to ride bareback when she was only five.  She attended a district school during three-month winter and summer sessions.  Academically advanced yet emotionally immature, she was first sent away to school at the age of eight, but was unable to stay and soon returned home.  Her childhood days ended abruptly when a fall at a construction site rendered her brother David an invalid.  Clara's instinctual gift of nursing started when she nursed him night and day throughout his two year convalescence at the age of eleven.  Afterwards she felt like she needed to be needed.  Inactivity brought her depression throughout her life.  After a brief period as a weaver at brother Stephen's mill, she was at loose ends.  Her parents were advised by visiting phrenologists, known as the Fowler brothers, to put sixteen-year-old Clara to teaching school to overcome her shyness.  In 1838, Clara became a teacher in a one-room school house in North Oxford, Massachusetts earning praise when she refused to physically punish her students, yet was able to produce disciplined scholars.  Many job offers followed, even after she demanded and recieved the same pay as male teachers.  She taught school for 10 years.




"Child that I was, I did not know that the surest test of discipline was its absence."



Clara Barton


"The Angel of the Battlefield" Born:

    At the age of 30 Clara Barton enrolled as a student at the Clinton Liberal Institute in New York State.  Schoolmates Charles and Mary Norton invited her for an extended visit with their family in Hightstown, New Jersey when the term ended.  In Bordentown she started a free public school, previously unknown in New Jersey.  The school was so successful that a new building was constructed and additional teachers hired.  Barton left for Washington, DC after a man was brought in to head the school at a salary of $600, greater by $350 than Barton's.  Barton worked in Washington as the first woman clerk in the Patent Office, for a salary equal to the men's.  After a time men in the office began to harass her.  On top of that she struggled with an overwhelming work load and then fell ill with malaria.  James Buchanan's presidential victory in 1856 put an end to her job.  On April 19, 1861, a week after Fort Sumter was fired upon, the Sixth Massachusetts troops arrived in Washington in disarray, having been attacked by secessionists in Baltimore.  Barton and her sister, Sally Vassall, went to the station to meet the men where Barton took the most seriously wounded to her sister's house and nursed them.  She returned home during her father's last illness, but was back in Washington the following summer, ready to get to the battlefield where she was most needed.  After obtaining a quartermaster's pass and six wagons with teamsters to carry her supplies through the lines she arrived with two helpers a few days after the battle at Culpepper, Virginia to work among the wounded for two days and nights without food or sleep.  Her first experience at the front strengthened her determination to keep on with the work.  Barton arrived with her supplies and skills on battlefields from Bull Run to Antietam and Fredericksburg, considering herself part of the Army of the Potomac.  The Twenty-first Massachusetts made her a daughter of the regiment holding a dress parade in her honor.  She collapsed with typhoid fever after returning to Washington, but rejoined the troops as soon as she felt able.  Barton was not the only woman serving as a volunteer as she later praised the work of Mary Bickerdyke, Mary Livermore, Frances Dana Gage and Dorothea Dix, although she herself preferred to work alone or with a single helper.  Barton felt her place was on the battlefield, not in Washington hospitals or supply depots.


"I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them."


Clara Barton


The American National Red Cross:

    After the American Civil War, Clara Barton was permitted by the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, to begin a letter writing campaign to search for missing soldiers through the Office of Correspondence.  In 1869, she traveled to Europe for rest as directed by her doctor.  While in Europe she was educated about the concept of the Red Cross as outlined in the Treaty of Geneva and also by observing the Red Cross while traveling with volunteers serving in the Franco-Prussian War.  She expanded the concept of the Red Cross to incluse assisting in any great national disaster.  On May 12, 1881 Barton became the President of the American National Red Cross for twenty-two years.  The American Red Cross's early work included aiding victims and workers in the floods of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in 1882 and 1884, the Texas famine of 1886, the Florida yellow fever epidemic in 1887, an earthquake in Illinois in 1888, and the 1889 Johnstown, Pennsylvania disaster/flood.  Influential citizens who questioned Barton's management of the Red Cross established a rival to the officially recognized American Red Cross in New York City.  Upset by this and by unwarranted commercial use of the Red Cross name and symbol, Barton implored the government to support the organization's charter as outlined in the international treaty.  In 1891 two bills were passed before Congress to answer these concerns but not until 1900 was the appropriate legislation passed and signed by President McKinley.  In 1893 Barton called a national meeting of the American Red Cross to adopt a new constitution eliminating the independence of local affiliates and shifting the organization's emphasis from domestic disasters to wartime assistance.  The name of the organization was thereby changed to the American National Red Cross. The American National Red Cross's first wartime experience was in the Spanish-American War in 1898.  


"Soldiers, I have worked for you and I ask you, now, one and all, that you consider the wants of my people....God only knows women were your friends in time of peril and you should be [theirs] now."


Clara Barton



















Back to List of Prominent Individuals






Page created by:  (Brant M)

Avon High School, Avon, Indiana

Date created: March 18, 2008 





Comments (10)

Anonymous said

at 8:42 pm on Mar 23, 2008

Brant, I like the chart of information. Make sure you are recording all of your sources.

Anonymous said

at 7:23 am on Apr 7, 2008

This page looks a little uncomfortable because there is so much information but not enough links or pictures to catch the eyes.

Anonymous said

at 7:27 am on Apr 7, 2008

The information is all very good, however, it is boring and a lot like a dictionary. The graphics with the font, the boxes around the quotes, and the graph are good, but I'd like to see more of them. Also, your sources are not formatted correctly.

Anonymous said

at 6:32 pm on Apr 7, 2008

This is a very informative page. The facts about her role in the American Red Cross was very interesting. However, this page could be spiced up a little. Try adding in colors or other pictures to keep the readers attention. All the text can be a little intimidating for a reader. The facts were great, just try to spice up the information a little more, but the Red Cross information was very interesting!

Anonymous said

at 7:03 am on Apr 10, 2008

Your infomation is great in your page. She was a very interesting person. But , I think your page would be better if you had more color and your sources should be in MLA format. You did a good job.

Anonymous said

at 7:06 am on Apr 10, 2008

The information on this page was good. But your first six links all go to the same page. It would have been better if you made each of those people a small wiki page.

Anonymous said

at 7:21 am on Apr 10, 2008

I really liked your page. It was very organized and looked very neat. I thought it was interesting, although you could have used more links. But overall - good job

Anonymous said

at 6:59 am on Apr 11, 2008

Your page was very insightful, but I must agree with Erin. Though that page that you linked to so many times was very informative, I would have liked to see a little more variety. You also might have included more pictures or something like that to break up the information a little, but when it comes to executing the information aspect, you did a great job!

Anonymous said

at 7:10 am on Apr 11, 2008

All of your information is very organized and well planned out. Because you don't have very many links, your credibility on the information you provided is a little lacking. Overall you did a good job providing the biographical information on Clara Barton's life.

Anonymous said

at 6:53 pm on Apr 13, 2008

There was an overwhelming amount of information on your wiki, but it was all relevant so I learned a lot from it. :) Good job! It would've been better if your first couple of links led to different, more informative pages. Also, this has been said a few times but your sources aren't in MLA format.

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