Harlowe Barton was born December 25, 1821, in North Oxford, Massachusetts.
She was the youngest of five children. Clara's older sisters and brothers
taught Clara and helped her with her school work. She did very well
in school as a result of their help and became a teacher when she
was 17 years old.
After teaching many years,
Clara yearned for a change and decided to work at the Patent Office.
When the Civil War broke out Clara left the patent office and volunteered
to bring supplies to the soldiers who were fighting on the front line.
Some soldiers called her the "Angel of the Battlefield,"
because she was not afraid to take care of soldiers in the war zone.
After the Civil War Clara
helped search for missing soldiers, lectured about her war experiences,
worked at the Office of Correspondence, and became active in the suffragist
movement. Clara worked so hard, she became ill. Her doctor told her
to take a vacation in Europe so she could rest and become well again.
Clara went to Europe, but
she didn't rest long. While in Europe Clara learned about the Red
Cross and served as a Red Cross volunteer during the Franco-Prussian
War. Clara was honored by the the French and Germans for the caring
assistance she provided during the war.
When Clara returned to the
United States in 1873, she began her crusade to start a Red Cross
in the United States. Clara would often visit Dansville, NY so she
could rest in the country. She made many friends in the Dansville
area and people wanted to honor her hard work. That is why the first
local American Red Cross society began in Dansville, shortly before
the American Red Cross was nationally recognized in 1881. Clara was
the founder and first president of the American Red Cross.