Psst, wanna know who Clara was?
Clarissa “Clara” Barton is most widely acknowledged as the founder of the American branch of the Red Cross. Her life’s work cemented her as one of the most important figures in the history of social work and nursing alike, and millions of people from across the globe have benefited from her contributions to American healthcare. She began her lifetime of service at the beginning of the Civil War, where she arranged medical care for Union troops who were wounded in the 1861’s Baltimore Riots.
Born into a middle-class family from Oxford Massachusetts, Barton began her career as many women of the time did, working as a school teacher. When the war began in 1861, however, she had moved to Washington D.C. where she worked as a clerk in the United States Patent Office–the first woman in U.S. history to hold this position in the Federal Government.
The impact of Barton’s contributions to society have been far reaching, especially her efforts in bringing the International Red Cross to the United States. The American chapter of the Red Cross has greatly expanded, now including more than 20,000 volunteers, and their disaster response nurses play an important role in their communities both in peacetime and in war, helping communities in many nations recover from natural disasters, terrorist acts, and industrial accidents.