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Clara Barton

Born: 25 December 1821

Died: 12 April 1912

Nationality: American

Clara was born Clarissa Harlowe Barton on Christmas Day in 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts.

When Clara was eleven years old, her brother David fell off the roof of a barn. He became very sick. Clara spent the next two years taking care of David. The doctors didn't hold out much hope for David, but, with Clara's help, he eventually got better. It was during this time that Clara discovered that she enjoyed taking care of others.

At the young age of seventeen, Clara began to work as a schoolteacher and was teaching at a summer school. Soon school wanted to hire her to teach during the winter as well. They offered to pay her less than the male teachers were making. She said she would not do a man's work for less than a man's pay. They soon agreed to pay her the full wage.

Eventually Clara decided to get a degree in Education and graduated in 1851. At first she went to work at a private school, but then decided to work on opening a free public school. She worked hard to get the school built, and by 1854 the school had six hundred students.

Clara moved to Washington D.C. and went to work for the patent office. However, as a woman she was not treated well. At one point she, and all the other female employees, were fired just because they were women. Clara fought for the right for women to be treated equally in the workplace.

Near the start of the Civil War a number of wounded soldiers arrived in Washington D.C. Clara and her sister Sally did what they could to help the men. They found out that the soldiers had little in the way of basic supplies to take care of their wounds. She soon organised a way to get needed supplies to the soldiers on the front lines.

While traveling overseas Clara learned of a group called the International Red Cross. This group helped wounded soldiers during the war. They hung a flag with a red cross and a white background on the outside of their hospital tents. After working for the Red Cross in France, Clara wanted to bring the organisation to America.

After four years of lobbying, Clara founded the American Red Cross on 21 May 1881. Since then, the American Red Cross has helped people recover from all sorts of disasters from floods to fires to earthquakes.

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