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She Was the 'Angel of the Battlefield'

Clara Barton, 20 years before founding the American Red Cross in 1881, came to the aid of soldiers fighting in the Civil War. At the war's outbreak, Barton worked as a U.S. Patent Office clerk and collected provisions and medical supplies for the Union Army. Restless with her limited role and undeterred by War Department regulations and prevailing stereotypes, Barton (1821-1912) became known as the "Angel of the Battlefield" as she distributed supplies and tended to the wounded and dying. Barton kept notes during the course of the war that documented the appalling carnage and medical conditions of the wounded transported to Fredericksburg, Va., from the Wilderness campaign

The Red Cross Serves Humanity. Join Now! Clara Barton, carte-de-visite album, ca. 1862

From Clara Barton, angel of the Civil War battlefield, to retired Rear Adm. Marsha Johnson Evans, who heads the organization today, the American Red Cross has been led by courageous and inspirational women. Barton's papers have been in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division since the 1940s

These and other materials relating to women's history are highlighted in a recent Library publication titled "American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States."

Here you will also find a Guide to Searching American Memory for Women's History Materials. Obvious places in American Memory are "Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Collection, 1848-1921," "'Votes for Women Suffrage' Pictures, 1850-1920 and "Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978-1996."

This search page will also guide you to less obvious sources of women's history, such as "Words and Deeds in American History," which contains a 1936 confidential letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to the executive secretary of the NAACP, wherein she details her lobbying efforts for federal action against lynchings


A. C.W. Anderson, artist. "The Red Cross Serves Humanity. Join Now!," between 1914 and 1918. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZC4-7776 (color film copy transparency); Call No.: POS - WWI - US, no. 116 (C size) [P&P]

B. Clara Barton, carte-de-visite album, ca. 1862. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZC4-6307

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