Clara Barton

1821 - 1912

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Clara Barton is well known for her work as a nurse in the American Civil War and forming The American Red Cross.

Key Points

  • Became teacher, opened her own school
  • Volunteer nurse in American Civil War - "Angel of the Battlefield"
  • Lincoln recruited Barton to find missing soldiers
  • Started American Red Cross
  • Volunteer nurse in Spanish American War

Early Life, Education & Occupation

Early Life

  • Clarrisa Harlowe Barton was born December 25, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts.
  • Clara was the youngest of six children.
  • She was extremely shy when she was younger.
  • When Clara was eleven, she nursed her brother, David, back to health after he fell off a barn.
  • Clara attended local schools and received home tutoring from her older brothers.
  • Clara's aunt was a midwife, who Clara could have learned nursing information from.
  • Clara worked as a book keeper for her older brother.
  • When Clara was in her late teens, she began a teaching career.
  • Clara opened her own school in Bordentown, New Jersey. She retired from teaching when she was replaced by a male principal.
  • Clara Barton moved to Washinton, D.C., where she was employed at a patent office until her anti-slavery opinions got in the way of her job.

"I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them." - Clara Barton

The Civil War

  • Many wounded Union soldiers arrived in Washington, D.C., where Barton volunteered at the Washington Infirmary.
  • Clara began tending to soldiers on the battlefield at battles such as, Antietam (Sharpsburgh). During the battle of Antietam, Clara Barton donated several wagons of supplies. Clara Barton is well known for her connection to Antietam.
  • Clara recruited men and trained them in first aid, gave them water to carry and gave them food to give to the wounded.
  • During the course of the war, Clara and her supply wagons travelled giving aid to the Union and Confederate armies, even though she supported the Union.
  • Clara travelled to Hilton Head Island, which was controlled by the Union, to provide aid for soldiers, but later moved to Morris Island where many sick or injured soldiers were located.
  • While on Morris Island, Barton became extremely sick and left the island.
  • In 1865, Clara was chosen by Abraham Lincoln to be General for the Friends of Paroled Prisoners, where she worked writing to the families of missing soldiers and keeping records of missing or dead soldiers.
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Clara Barton was nicknamed the "Angel of the Battlefield."

The American Red Cross, The Spanish American War & Feminism

The American Red Cross
  • Clara Barton first heard of the Global Red Cross while in Europe after the American Civil War. After returning home from Europe, Clara campaigned for an American branch of the Global Red Cross. Clara and several of her peers founded the American Red Cross in May of 1882.

The Spanish American War

  • When the Spanish American War broke out Clara Barton set up Red Cross stations throughout the war zone and worked to heal Americans and Cubans who were injured.
  • Barton tended to the wounds of soldiers on the battle fields at the age of 77.


  • Throughout the civil war Clara Barton went to areas and worked in hospital only men were allowed to go or run.
  • Susan B. Anthony and Clara Barton were good friends.
  • Clara Barton was chosen to speak at many women suffrage conventions.
Clara Barton - Mini Biography

Clara Barton was a humanitarian, teacher, feminist and activist.

Summery of Clara Barton

Clara Barton was born in 1821. She worked as a teacher and even started her own school, which was the first public school in New Jersey. Barton was one of the first women to work for the federal government. She is well known for her work in the American Civil War and the Spanish American War. Clara Barton will always be remembered for founding the American Red Cross. Clara Barton died in 1912 when she was 90 years old.