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Collection Clara Barton Papers


A chronology of key events in the life of Clara Barton (1821-1912), philanthropist, nurse, educator, and lecturer.

Clara Barton (1821-1912)

  1. 1821, Dec. 25

    Born Clarissa Harlowe Barton, Oxford, Mass., youngest child of Stephen Barton (1774-1862) and Sarah Stone Barton (1783-1851)
  2. 1833-1835

    Nurse to her brother David Barton (1808-1888) while he recovered from a serious fall
  3. 1839-1850

    Taught in local public schools near Oxford, Mass.
  4. 1851

    Attended the Liberal Institute, Clinton, N.Y.
  5. 1852-1854

    Established and taught free school, Bordentown, N.J.
  6. 1854

    Moved to Washington, D.C.
  7. 1854-1857

    Employed at U.S. Patent Office, first as a recording clerk. Position reduced to copyist in 1855 due to Interior Secretary Robert McClelland's opposition to women in government workforce.
  8. 1857-1860 

    Returned to Massachusetts after position at U.S. Patent Office eliminated
  9. 1860-1865

    Rehired as temporary clerk, U.S. Patent Office
  10. 1861-1865

    Organized and assisted in nursing and relief services for the Union army during the Civil War
  11. 1861, Apr.

    Provided supplies to soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry quartered in Washington, D.C., after having been attacked by a mob in Baltimore, Md., on April 19
  12. 1862-1863

    Provided aid to Union troops during and after battles of Cedar Mountain, Chantilly and Second Bull Run in Virginia; Maryland Campaign and Antietam; and battle of Fredericksburg, Va.
  13. 1863, Apr

    Relocated to Hilton Head, S.C., to provide aid to Union troops near Charleston, close to where her brother David Barton and nephew Steven E. Barton were stationed.  Met Colonel John J. Elwell, with whom she formed a romantic relationship.
  14. 1863, May

    Met Frances D. Gage, writer, abolitionist, and women's rights activist
  15. 1863, July-Aug.

    Assisted soldiers wounded in the Union assault on Fort Wagner, Charleston, S.C.
  16. 1864, Jan.-May

    Returned to Washington, D.C.
  17. 1864

    Assisted with relief efforts during the Overland Campaign in Virginia
  18. 1864, June

    Began relief work with the X Corps, Army of the James, under the command of General Benjamin F. Butler
  19. 1865, Jan.-Mar.

    Caregiver to her brother Stephen Barton (d. March 10, 1865)
  20. 1865-1868

    Operated the Office of Correspondence with the Friends of the Missing Men of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C., in an effort to locate and identify missing soldiers
  21. 1865, July

    With Dorence Atwater, part of the expedition to the former Andersonville prison in Georgia to mark the graves of Union prisoners. Raised U.S. flag at cemetery dedication on August 17, 1865.
  22. 1866, Feb. 21

    Testified External before the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, United States Congress 39th Congress, 1st session, 1865-1866
  23. 1866, Mar. 10

    U.S. Congress appropriated $15,000 to reimburse Barton for her efforts in locating missing soldiers (See S.R. 36, 39th Congress, 1st session, March 2, 1866 for joint resolution urging appropriation. Available online in "Bills and Resolutions" on A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation)
  24. 1866-1868

    Toured the Northeast and Midwest delivering lectures on her war experiences
  25. 1869, Aug.

    Traveled to Europe to restore her health
  26. 1870, Sept. 17

    Met Grand Duchess Louise of Baden, with whom Barton formed a personal friendship and professional relationship
  27. 1870-1871

    Introduced to the Red Cross in Europe, and organized relief services during the Franco-Prussian War
  28. 1873

    Returned to the United States
  29. 1876

    Moved to Dansville, N.Y., where she met Julian B. Hubbell, who would play a significant role in Barton's future relief efforts with the Red Cross
  30. 1877-1882

    Advocated for U.S. ratification of the Geneva Convention, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 16, 1882
  31. 1881-1904

    Founder and president, American Red Cross (known as the American Association of the Red Cross at its founding)
  32. 1881-1882

    Organized Red Cross relief aid to forest fire victims in Michigan
  33. 1882-1884

    Organized Red Cross relief aid to victims of Mississippi and Ohio river floods
  34. 1883-1884

    Superintendent, Women's Reformatory Prison, Sherborn, Mass.
  35. 1884, Aug.

    Traveled to Geneva, Switzerland in the first American delegation to the International Red Cross Conference
  36. 1886, Mar.

    Moved to Washington, D.C.
  37. 1886, Sept.

    Organized Red Cross relief aid to earthquake victims, Charleston, S.C.
  38. 1888, Feb.

    Supervised tornado relief efforts, Mount Vernon, Ill.
  39. 1888, Aug.

    Organized Red Cross relief for yellow fever victims, Jacksonville, Fla.
  40. 1889, June-Oct.

  41. 1891-1892

    Built warehouse at Glen Echo, Md., modeled on Red Cross shelters used for relief work at Johnstown, Pa. Barton would later use the structure as her home and American Red Cross headquarters.
  42. 1892

    Organized Red Cross relief aid to Russia for victims of drought and famine
  43. 1893, Apr.

    American Association of the Red Cross reincorporated as the American National Red Cross
  44. 1893-1894

    Organized and supervised Red Cross relief aid for hurricane victims on the Sea Islands, S.C.
  45. 1896

    Organized Red Cross relief aid for the Armenians in Turkey
  46. 1897-1912

    Lived at American Red Cross headquarters, Glen Echo, Md.
  47. 1898, Feb. 15

    Assisted with the wounded after the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana, Cuba
  48. 1898, Apr.

    Began organization of Red Cross relief efforts in Cuba during the Spanish-American War
  49. 1898

    Published The Red Cross External. Washington, D.C.: American National Red Cross
  50. 1900, June

    American National Red Cross reincorporated as the American Red Cross
  51. 1900, Sept.

    Organized Red Cross relief aid to victims of a hurricane and tidal wave, Galveston, Tex.
  52. 1903, Dec.

    Distributed supplies during typhoid epidemic in Butler, Pa.
  53. 1904, May 14

    Resigned as president of the American Red Cross
  54. 1904

    Published A Story of the Red Cross External. New York: D. Appleton
  55. 1905-1910

    Founder and president of the National First Aid Association of America
  56. 1907

    Published The Story of My Childhood External. New York: Baker & Taylor Co.
  57. 1912, Apr. 12

    Died, Glen Echo, Md. Interred in North Cemetery, Oxford, Mass.
  58. 1997

    Barton's Office of Correspondence with the Friends of the Missing Men of the U.S. Army rediscovered at 437 7th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
  59. 2015, July

    Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum opened to the public in Washington, D.C.