By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer
“They don’t make them like they used to” is a well-worn phrase, but it could be true regarding American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton. As we honor her 201st birthday on December 25, it’s fun to take a quick look at several of her achievements.
Wage negotiations – WIN
She successfully obtained equal pay as an in-demand teacher during her early career. As she said then, “I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.”
Breaking into a man’s world – WIN
After teaching, Clara moved to Washington, D.C., and worked at the U.S. Patent Office, where she was one of the first women to work for the federal government.
First woman granted permission to travel to the frontlines – WIN
Driven by a desire to be helpful and help those in need, she sprang into action when the Civil War broke out, earning the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield” for her work in caring for soldiers on the frontlines. In 1862, Clara was granted the privilege by the U.S. Surgeon General to travel to battlefronts under the guidance of Generals John Pope and James S. Wadsworth.
Founded a reunification program for missing Union soldiers in 1865 – WIN
After the war, Clara began to set up a program to find and gather information about missing Union soldiers to give to the soldiers’ families.
Founded the American Red Cross in 1881 – WIN
Inspired by her experiences in Europe with the International Red Cross, when Barton returned to this country, she spent years lobbying to establish a similar organization. In 1881, Clara founded the American Red Cross and, the following year, convinced President Garfield and Congress to adopt the Geneva Treaty.
After all those firsts, how can you help but be inspired? Working for the Red Cross from age 60 until she was 84, it’s impossible to say you’re too old to volunteer – you aren’t. Sign up here.
You also can’t say you can’t help our military members – you can. Learn more here.
And if you can only spend an hour or two – you can donate blood. Dozens of appointments are open here.
Be like Clara – be a winner with the Red Cross.