Barton, Clara


Figure 1. Clara Barton, America (1905). Source:

(December 25, 1821-April 12, 1912)

Clarissa Harlowe Barton, born December 25th, 1821 in Massachusetts to Stephen and Sarah Barton. At the age of eighteen Clara started teaching. At the age of thirty-one Clara opened the first public school in Bordertown, New Jersey. Eventually Clara Barton went on to volunteering in the Civil War, first organizing donations and then helping wounded soldiers. Following the Civil War Barton spent four years locating and “giving proper memorials” to 1300 soldiers (Spiegel, 1995). On October 1st, 1882, Clara Barton incorporated the “American Association of the Red Cross” (Spiegel). During these accomplishments, Clara Barton managed to survive multiple health problems and gender discrimination.


Clara Barton began her career as a teacher. She was a strict teacher and expected a lot from her students. Bordentown, New Jersey had many private schools that children attended. When Barton opened up a free school, over 600 children enrolled by the end of its first year. Because of the large amount of children to be educated, Barton needed help. With new staff, came changes. Barton became an assistant to a male principal, who had very different view on teaching then Barton. “She gradually lost her voice, and resigned.” (Evans, 2003). This however, was not the end for Barton.

“Angel of the Battlefield”(Oates, 2005, p. 91) was named to honour Barton by thousands of soldiers whose lives were saved by her effort in the Civil War. Described by Oates, Barton was distressed when she realized there was a shortage of medical supply and untreated soldiers from the war; this realization determined her to organize an agent for emergency relief. She convinced the Union Army to allow her to do volunteer work for the injured soldiers thus to achieve her to relieve these sufferings (Oates). Barton cared, comforted, and dressed the wounded during the entire war for both the northern and the southern soldiers as the armies advanced or retreated; she served on the front line from 1862 to 1864 (Oates).

Clara Barton wanted to start an American Red Crossbranch. The Red Cross, originally an international organization was active in bringing a large scale of medical assistance to soldiers wounded on the battlefield. Barton became interested in the Treaty of Geneva which would allow freedom of movement across territorial boundaries of those bringing medical aid to the wounded and dying during the war. As of 1864 America still had not signed. Barton’s efforts finally paid off winning America’s signature in 1882. She was now on the path to the American Red Cross. Evan (2003) reports that “from 1881 to 1904, Barton helped” (p. 80) people in need in her own country and overseas.

The life of Clara Barton had taught us important lessons and had placed the nursing profession in high regard. Because of Clara Barton’s tireless service to humanity during the American Civil War, she gained the recognition of “Angel of the Battlefield”. Her tenacity and dedication had resulted to the foundation of the American Red Cross. As a teacher and nurse, Clara Barton had inspired us because of her unfaltering devotion to perform the duty while facing many challenges. She was even described as a woman driven to greatness with unwavering courage to overcome obstacles. Clara Barton epitomized the person with a tireless spirit and a motivation to help those in need. In her tremendous endeavour, Clara Barton never gave up in accomplishing the task that needs to be done (Evans, 2003). Spiegel (1995) even stated that the key to Clara Barton’s administrative capabilities and leadership is to think straight, plan carefully, and act boldly.


Clara Barton [Online image]. (1905). Retrieved July 27, 2009, from

Evans, G. D., (2003). Clara Barton: Teacher, nurse, Civil War heroine, founder of the American Red Cross. International History of Nursing Journal, 7(3),
75-82. Retrieved from

Oates, S.B. (Ed.). (1995). A woman of valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War. New York: Free Press.

Spiegel, A. (1995). The role of gender, phrenology, discrimination, and nervous prostration in Clara Barton’s career. Journal of Community Health, 20(6), 501. Retrieved from

Sebastian A., Anna C., Dianna C., Aliya G., Rian Y.