Clara Barton Tour Underway

By Linda MacIntyre, PhD, RN, chief nurse of the American Red Cross

Tour group at Clara Barton Office of Missing Soldiers Museum, Washington, DC.

The Clara Barton Tour officially began last evening. Participants gathered for dinner and conversation. Annie Bartholomew, long a student of Clara Barton, gave a brief overview of Barton’s life, with teasers for her upcoming presentation on the bus. Annie has stories to tell that might best be revealed over a glass of wine.

Reasons given for coming on the tour included

  • not having heard of Clara Barton and thinking it was time to learn about her,
  • over 40 years of studying Clara’s life,
  • a birthday gift from a husband.

And many came because of their connection with Sue Hassmilller, long-time volunteer and board member. It is Sue’s vision and energy that made the Clara Barton Tour possible and we are saddened that she’s not able to participate due to a family emergency. Sue’s wish for us is to enjoy the tour and to send prayers. We’re committed to doing both. […]

A 40-Year Red Cross Volunteer’s Ongoing Quest to Learn More

Sue Hassmiller, on left, as American Red Cross volunteer following 2011 Alabama tornado strikes.

By Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) senior advisor for nursing, and director, Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, American Red Cross volunteer national ambassador. (Second post of ongoing Clara Barton Study Tour series.)

The ‘Red Cross lady’ on the phone.

Earthquake hits Mexico City! said the news flash on my television screen 40 years ago as I sat in my childhood home. I was a college student, house-sitting for my parents, who were in Mexico City for a long-deserved vacation.

I had no idea what to do. There were no cell phones in those days, no Internet. I hurried to the yellow rotary phone on the wall at the end of the kitchen cabinets and dialed 0 for the operator. I implored her help. She said she couldn’t help me, but would connect me to an organization that could. It was the American Red Cross. […]

2016-11-21T13:00:57+00:00 September 23rd, 2016|Clara Barton 2016, nursing history, Public health|1 Comment

Following in the Footsteps of Clara Barton

clara-barton-photographed-by-matthew-bradyAt Antietam: From government clerk to “Angel of the Battlefield”

This Saturday marks the 154th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Antietam—what has been called “the single bloodiest day in American military history.” Confederate army and Union troops faced off in Sharpsburg, Maryland. They fought for almost two days and when the battle ended, there were over 22,000 casualties among both sides. In the middle of it all, Clara Barton, a former teacher and government clerk, drove wagons of supplies around battle lines and tended to wounded soldiers.

Antietam marked the beginning of the legacy of Clara Barton, who on that day earned the title “Angel of the Battlefield.” Today, a monument to her stands at one end of the battlefield.

Bringing the Red Cross to America

arc-logoWhen the war ended, Barton continued to work for the soldiers, founding the Bureau of Records of Missing Men of the Armies of the United States to identify the millions of missing and dead soldiers. After a visit to Geneva with the International Red Cross in 1880, she returned and established the American Red Cross and became its president until […]

‘Join Now!’: Jane Delano, Early 20th Century Red Cross Nurse Pioneer

Jane Delano Jane Delano

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

In 1909, Jane Delano was chair of the national committee of the Red Cross nursing services, superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps, and president of the young American Nurses Association. The Red Cross was to serve as the reserve for nurses for relief services and for the army and navy nursing services. Flickr/ via James Vaughan Flickr/ via James Vaughan

At the outbreak of World War I, Delano mounted an aggressive national campaign to recruit thousands of nurses to attend to the troops in Europe and to provide services here at home during disasters and the 1918 influenza epidemic. AJN published a short biography of this remarkable woman in August 1930.

Delano also wrote a monthly column for the fledgling American Journal of Nursing. Her first column, a summary of the national meeting of the Red Cross in New York City, appeared in May 1909. Delano also founded the Red Cross Town and Country Nursing Service, which provided visiting nurses in rural areas. She died in France in 1919 while on Red Cross business.

Editor’s note: this is the second short post in a series we are publishing during Women’s History Month to draw attention to important figures or trends in the history of women and nursing. The first was “Parallel Developments: Women’s History and the Professional […]

2016-11-21T13:01:23+00:00 March 18th, 2016|nursing history|0 Comments

Parallel Developments: Women’s Rights and the Professional Identity of Nurses

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

When women marched in the street to gain the right to vote, nurses marched with them. It’s no coincidence that nursing’s push for a professional identity occurred parallel to the women’s rights movement in the 19th and 20th centuries. As women were expanding their interests beyond the home and seeking a voice in the greater society, so too were nurses looking to establish their own professional identity and practice.

AJN‘s archives are replete with articles and letters from nurses who were on both sides of the suffrage question and other related issues affecting women and the nursing profession. During Women’s History Month, we will post several articles from our 115 years of archives. We hope you enjoy them and realize the many contributions of those nurses who came before us.

Below is an excerpt from one heartfelt letter drawing a connection between the women’s suffrage movement and nursing’s work in the public health sphere. It was published in the January 1909 edition of AJN (to read the entire letter, click here, and then click the link to the PDF version in the upper-right corner of the page):


…the sentence and the letter go on from there. It’s eloquent and to the point, even if some of the morality-tinged language will seem out of date. You can’t understand what’s happening today without looking to the past. Give it a read.—Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief