Clara Barton 2016: From Civil War to Red Cross to Today

Oil painting of Clara Barton by Mathilde Leisenring, 1937.

Oil painting of Clara Barton by Mathilde Leisenring, 1937.

One woman’s desire to serve during the Civil War eventually led to the founding of the American Red Cross. Based on the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, unity, independence, voluntary service, and universality, the American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, which provides protection and assistance to people affected by disasters and conflicts. It has always drawn to service both nurses and nursing students alike.

Red Cross nurses and other health professionals continue the work of Clara Barton today, providing leadership and service across the organization. The vast majority are volunteers.

AJN is hosting a series of blog posts by nurses on a tour tracing the footsteps of the founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton. In the Washington, DC, area (Sept. 26 to Oct. 1), the Clara Barton Study tour will visit sites such as Antietam and the American Red Cross National Disaster Operations Headquarters. The second part of the tour, in Geneva, Switzerland (Oct. 1 to Oct. 6), will explore the ongoing work of the International Red Cross and other humanitarian and health organizations.
arc-logoJust as Barton was moved to action during time of war and long thereafter, it is my/our hope to bring you along through regular blog posts from tour participants on a journey studying Barton’s life’s work, the organization she started (at a time when only men were able to vote and pursue their dreams and careers), and its international counterparts. We hope to similarly engage and motivate you to not only learn more about Clara Barton and the Red Cross, but about opportunities to engage through volunteering and donating to this ongoing mission. Welcome aboard! Plan to follow on Twitter with the hashtag #ClaraB2016. New posts will be added below as they appear.

  • 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
  • Linda M. MacIntyre, PhD, RN, chief nurse, American Red Cross |Volunteer Services | American Red Cross National Headquarters

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

September 23rd, 2016|

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. […]

Following in the Footsteps of Clara Barton

September 16th, 2016|

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 1904. […]