May 21st, 1881 marks the founding of the American Red Cross by visionary leader Clara Barton, a home-educated teacher and civil servant in the United States Patent Office. Barton started teaching at the age of fifteen; went on to open a free public school in Bordentown, N.J; nursed an invalid brother; organized the distribution of donated medical supplies; formed a volunteer relief service for soldiers; and served as superintendent of nurses under Major General Benjamin F. Butler during the Civil War. Illustrative of her humanitarianism and commitment to education, these experiences prompted her most significant achievement -- one that influenced generations of nurses, doctors, and medical assistants in service throughout the world.
In August 1881, the first local chapter of the American Red Cross was established in Dansville, New York. Originally the humanitarian foundation aimed to provide disaster relief, such as nursing for the victims of the Michigan forest fires (1881); the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood (1889); and Carolina islands hurricane (1893). Also came the need to assist refugees and prisoners of war, leading Clara Barton and associates to Constantinople where they aided Armenian victims of the Ottoman Empire (1896) and then journeyed to Cuba to help victims of the Spanish-American War and the U.S. military (1898).
Today the role of the American Red Cross is much wider, strengthened by numerous corporate partners, local chapters, employees, and volunteers; it provides community service to assist those in need; communication services and help for the military and their families; the collection, processing, and distribution of blood and blood products; educational programs on health and safety; and international relief and development programs.
Important to the history of nursing and the foundation of the nation’s first program in nursing education at Teachers College are stories relating founding and development of the American Red Cross.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Barton, C. (1891, Jan 25). Under the Red Cross.: Clara Barton Tells What Her Society Would Do In Case Of War. The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945) com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/docview/193872195?accountid=10226
- Barton, C. (1898, Mar 13). Rule Of the Red Cross: To Aid Suffering Humanity Wherever Found. Has Robbed War Of Its Horrors Miss Clara Barton, President Of The American National Red Cross, Writes Of the Origin and Work Of That Organization. The Washington Post (1877-1922)
- Miss Clara Barton, The Founder Of the Red Cross In This Country: The Story Of Aa Noble Life. (1898, Jun 16). The Hartford Courant (1887-1922)
- Red Cross Education. (1918, Jun 05). The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945)
- Clara Barton Homestead Open To Public As Memorial. (1922, Jun 08). The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File)
- Red Cross Hygiene Class Graduation. (1936, Dec 05). Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960)
- Wood, K. (1941, Dec 07). Clara Barton In War And Peace. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Davis, N.H. (1943, Feb 28). The Red Cross Beacon Lights Our Way': Wherever Our Forces Go, Wherever Humanity Is Suffering, Says Norman Davis, the American Red Cross Does Its Work. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Our Red Cross Gave Aid Throughout World In War: Backed By 56,550,733 In U.S., It Fought Suffering And Death On Every Front And Helped 75,000,000 War Victims (1947, Jan 12).New York Times (1923-Current File)
- A Good Biography Of Clara Barton. (1955, Nov 13). The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959)
- Samuels, G. (1961, Feb 26). The Legacy Of Clara Barton: The Work Of A Great Humanitarian Has An Enduring Monument: The American Red Cross. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- McCarthy, A. (1987, Nov 29). Clara Barton, Nurse And Activist: Clara Barton, Professional Angel. The Washington Post (1974-Current File)
- Jones, Marion Moser. The American Red Cross from Clara Baron to the New Deal. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2013. e-book
- Pryor, Elizabeth Brown. Clara Barton: Professional Angel. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987. e-book
- Explore archival material on the Red Cross, including authored works by Clara Barton, in Pocketknowledge, the digital archive of Teachers College, Columbia University.
- See featured databases in nursing education.
- World War Red Cross Supper for Refugees, 1920, Rothman Lantern Slide Collection, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries, Teachers College, Columbia University
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries
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