Clara Barton circa 1906
Clara Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was an American nurse and Civil War hero known for founding the American Red Cross.
Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born in Oxford, Massachusetts, on Christmas Day, 1821, the youngest of five children. Her interest in medical care is often attributed to an early experience where she spent two years nursing her brother back to health following a serious head injury.
After receiving a full education at home, she became a teacher herself at age 15. In 1852 she established a free school in Bordentown, New Jersey, that over the next few years became so successful the town would no longer allow a woman to run it. Barton resigned rather than accept a demotion and found work in Washington DC as a clerk for the U.S. Patent Office.
American Civil War
Barton was working at the Patent Office when the Civil War broke out in 1861. Throughout the war she spent countless hours bringing supplies to makeshift hospitals and comforting, feeding, and nursing wounded soldiers in the field, from which she earned her famous nickname, “Angel of the Battlefield.”
She continued to help soldiers even after the war, investigating the fates of missing men at the request of friends and family and marking thousands of graves.
American Red Cross
In 1869, during a trip through Europe for her health, Barton came across Geneva, Switzerland’s Red Cross organization. This inspired her to create the American Association of the Red Cross, and she served as president from its founding in 1881 to her resignation in 1904.
Final Years and Legacy
Barton passed away in her Maryland home at age 90. Her work changed the world’s perception of women’s strength in times of war, and her name can be found on roads, schools, and other public buildings across the nation. A Clara Barton monument stands at Antietam National Battlefield.
Learn more about Clara Barton through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.
Articles and Clippings about Clara Barton
Article titled "The Angel of the Battle Field" recounts Clara Barton's work aiding wounded soldiers Sat, Nov 22, 1862 – 4 · The Buffalo Commercial (Buffalo, New York) · Newspapers.comRecounting of Clara Barton's work with missing soldiers and identifying graves at Andersonville Sat, Aug 5, 1865 – 2 · Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express (Buffalo, New York) · Newspapers.comPublished letter from Clara Barton asking for details on missing soldiers on behalf of friends Wed, Jan 16, 1867 – 2 · Lamoille Newsdealer (Hyde Park, Vermont) · Newspapers.comEditorial summary of the life and work of "Miss Clara Barton" as shared in 1867 Mon, Dec 2, 1867 – 1 · Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) · Newspapers.comClara Barton resigns from American Red Cross, 1904; resignation letter printed in announcement Sun, May 15, 1904 – 9 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.comDeath announcement for Miss Clara Barton, "Mother of Red Cross Society," published on day of death Fri, Apr 12, 1912 – 1 · The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from Clara Barton obituary printed in Baltimore paper on April 12, 1912, day of her death Fri, Apr 12, 1912 – 1 · The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.comClara Barton was shy, nursed brother's injuries; excerpt from biographical article printed in 1917 Fri, Dec 14, 1917 – Page 10 · The Maui News (Wailuku, Hawaii) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from article on Clara Barton school details her incredible work as public school teacher Fri, Jan 30, 1920 – Page 12 · The Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey) · Newspapers.comEditorial describes endorsement that highway from Dansville to Rochester be named for Clara Barton Mon, Sep 21, 1931 – Page 12 · Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) · Newspapers.com"Clara Barton as she looked at the time of the Civil War," shared in St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1931 Sun, Oct 18, 1931 – Page 72 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.comClara Barton School in Bordentown, New Jersey, used by her in 1844 as her first public school Thu, Apr 27, 1939 – 6 · Monmouth Democrat (Freehold, New Jersey) · Newspapers.comGen Alfred Gruenther, head of American Red Cross, speaks at unveiling of Clara Barton monument 1962 Mon, Sep 10, 1962 – Page 1 · The Daily Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from article describes new Clara Barton monument at Antietam Battlefield, 1962 Mon, Dec 24, 1962 – 4 · Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com