10 Lessons Learned from Clara Barton’s Life and Work

By Jean Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and founding dean (retired) at the George Washington University School of Nursing, member of the Red Cross National Nursing Committee, and Linda MacIntyre, PhD, RN, chief nurse of the American Red Cross

Clara Barton at desk in Red Cross headquarters Clara Barton at desk in Red Cross headquarters

This is the final post in the Clara Barton Study Tour series. There have been many lessons learned during the tour. All of the participants have agreed to take what we learned and reflect on how our lives have been changed by this trip and what we are going to do to use what we learned to further the humanitarian work of Clara and the Red Cross.

For reasons mentioned in previous posts, this tour was very emotional, as well as informative. Here are ten lessons we learned from our investigation into Clara Barton’s career and its continuing implications for ongoing efforts in the U.S. and internationally.

  1. Clara Barton was resilient and a renegade, transforming some of her biggest fears and bouts of depression into constructive humanitarian action.
  2. Clara was a superb logistician, gathering goods and transporting them during the Civil War and during disasters in the U.S. and internationally, such as her relief work in the Franco-Prussian War.
  3. Clara was tenacious. If she did not get what she wanted, she kept at it. When trying to meet with President Lincoln about establishing the Missing Soldiers […]

In Geneva, a Wider Perspective on Clara Barton’s Humanitarian Vision

By Jean Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and founding dean (retired) at the George Washington University School of Nursing, member of the Red Cross National Nursing Committee, and Linda MacIntyre, PhD, RN, chief nurse American Red Cross

To Geneva, Oct. 2-3: The Red Cross Mission Is International

Red Cross and Red Crescent Symbols Outside ICRC Museum, Geneva Red Cross and Red Crescent Symbols outside ICRC Museum, Geneva

The Clara Barton Study Tour was the idea and passion of Sue Hassmiller. As you may know from the most recent post in this series, Sue and her husband Bob were prevented from coming on this trip due to Bob’s tragic bicycle accident. Sue had insisted that Geneva needed to be part of the tour because it’s where she learned of Henri Dunant’s work to create the international Red Cross in Geneva. With Bob’s steady support in the planning phase, Sue had somehow made the trip a reality, with the second leg of the tour taking place here in Geneva.

The study tour in Geneva and the organizations we visited on our first two days there were in complete harmony with Bob’s commitment to the Red Cross. While Bob gave his time and energy to […]

The Call to Service Is Personal: From Vietnam to Red Cross Volunteer

Sue and Bob Hassmiller. Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross. Photo courtesy of American Red Cross

This post was written by Bob Hassmiller the day before a serious bicycle accident, when he was looking forward to beginning the Clara Barton Tour. He did not make it to Geneva, and died two days after we published this post. The post shows the type of man Bob was—creative, thoughtful, caring, and committed to the Red Cross. We are publishing this post to honor Bob and Sue Hassmiller (pictured at right) and give voice to his commitment to the Red Cross.

Henri Dunant’s Awakening

Geneva is perhaps as beautiful and tranquil a spot as any on earth. We’ve looked forward to going there to explore how this unique city became the nexus between overwhelming disaster and the hope (and action) that alleviates that disaster.

Just as in the first part of the Clara Barton Tour, we learned that the ideals and actions of determined, caring, dedicated, and sometimes flawed individual like Clara Barton could result in the founding of a great humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross, so too do we review the efforts of her European contemporary Henri Dunant.

At American Red Cross HQ and Ford’s Theatre, Vital History, Past and Present

9/29/16: A Day at Red Cross Headquarters

American Red Cross National Headquarters, Washington, DC National Red Cross Headquarters

By Jean Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and founding dean (retired) at the George Washington University School of Nursing, member of the Red Cross National Nursing Committee

Today we walked up the marble steps to the stately national American Red Cross. Entering the Board of Governors Hall was an emotional experience. Banners reflecting nursing and the Red Cross were at each end of an exquisite room that featured Tiffany windows depicting the theme of “ministry to the sick and wounded through sacrifice.” The Women’s Relief Corps of the North and the United Daughters of the Confederacy—two Civil War organizations—each gave $5,000 for the stained glass windows. […]

Clara Barton Tour Update: From Mercury as Medicine to Modern Disaster Response

The two Clara Barton Study Tour updates below are from Jean Johnson of the Red Cross National Nursing Committee and Linda MacIntyre, chief nurse of the Red Cross, who are taking in tons of impressions and information at the various tour sites.

Antietam At Antietam

Wednesday, September 28

We’ve found our way to the Pry House Field Hospital Museum near the Antietam battle site as our first stop on the Clara Barton Tour.  Medications used for surgery necessitated fast surgical procedures as ether wore off quickly. This had its benefits.

However, there were toxic medicines used, such as mercury. One surgeon refused to use a mercury-based medication and was discharged from his post. His colleagues weren’t ready to accept evidence-based medicine—it was later confirmed that mercury caused significant damage to tissue. We also learned that soldiers treated in the barn and field did better in recovery than the officers who were cared for in the Pry House. This was because of the fresh air. […]