Women’s History Month Spotlight: Clara Barton

“You must never so much think as whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not; you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”- Clara Barton

Clarissa “Clara” Harlowe Barton, is one of the most recognized and honored women in American History. She was an educator and humanitarian that fulfilled her life’s devotion by choosing to help others.  Clara quit her job when the Civil War began in 1861 and began a mission to administer needed supplies to Union soldiers. This initial mission commenced her life long career of first aid.

Clara was inspired when she visited Switzerland in 1869 as she learned about the International Red Cross movement.  This European humanitarian group sought to provide neutral aid to those injured in combat. In her time there, she volunteered alongside the International Committee of the Red Cross which provided civilian relief during the Franco-Prussian War. The result of this experience ignited Clara to bring the movement to America.

On May 21, 1881, the American Association of the Red Cross was formed, and Clara was elected the president in June. In 1904, Clara established the National First Aid Association of America. This organization was created to acknowledge and emphasize emergency preparedness as well as create first aid kits.

Utilizing her own experience, she educated others on the importance of obtaining medical supplies and first-aid to emergency situations. It is because of Clara Barton that a bridge was built between first-aid knowledge and emergency preparedness.