Clara Barton was one of the most dedicated nurses and influential women of her time. She changed the course of nursing. Her name is second only to Florence Nightingale’s in the history of nursing. She was born on Christmas day, 1821 in Massachusetts. She became a teacher at the young age of seventeen. Along with becoming a teacher she also opened up a free school in New Jersey. Under her leadership the school grew to a size of six hundred pupils. However the school replaced her with a male instructor. Frustrated with this decision, she moved to Washington DC and began work in the US Patent office. This was the first time a woman had ever had the position of a clerk in the federal government. With the eruption of Civil War, in the United States, Ms. Barton dedicated herself to aiding soldiers on the front lines. During her service she refused to take a salary for her services. Never before had women been allowed on the front lines, camps, or battle front hospitals.
Ms. Barton practiced nursing exclusively on the front lines serving the most critically injured first. Through this she experienced the horrors of war first hand on sixteen different battlefields. She worked alongside Dr. James Dunn, a surgeon at the battle of Antietam, and earned the title “angel of the Battlefield”. “In my feeble estimation, General McClellan, with all his laurels, sinks into insignificance beside the true heroine of the age, the angel of the battlefield.”(Dunn)Ms. Barton is most remembered for initiating the American National Red Cross and presiding over it for twenty-two years.
The courage and determination this woman had has impacted nursing in an extremely positive way. Her courage while nursing the soldiers in the Civil War was extraordinary. Ms. Barton’s close friend, Susan Rosenvold often made references about Ms. Barton’s bravery and dedication. “She had several close calls with bullets. She never flinched or seemed anxious on the battlefield. “(Susan Rosenvold). Ms. Barton donated a lot of supplies from her personal fund and collected the rest from any contributors she could find. A well-documented account describes her holding up the head of an injured soldier to offer him water when she felt a minor ripple in the fabric of her sleeve. The bullet that passed through her sleeve hit the solider in the chest, killing him. Ms. Barton carried on tending to the sick and injured. Alongside the surgeons she performed triage with the soldiers, the first to use triage in the Civil War. She became the superintendent of Union nurses in 1864 and obtained medical supplies and directed assistants and military trains for her work on the front. MS. Barton received a lot of media coverage during the Civil War and this prompted her to found the Missing Soldiers Office, which helped families find out the whereabouts of their loved ones. She also helped find over 22,000 graves of the soldiers. President Lincoln granted her the ability to begin this. (Library of Congress Finding Aid).
In 1869, Ms. Barton travelled to Europe for rest, while there she was educated about the concept of the Red Cross as outlined in the Treaty of Geneva. There she volunteered in the Franco-Prussian War. Upon her return to the United States she encouraged the US join in this treaty in 1882 and remained the president of the American Red Cross for twenty two years. This helped change the way national disasters would be handled in the US. Ms. Barton adopted the framework of the Red Cross to fit the needs of the US, not only in wartime but in peacetime also. The Red Cross in their early years was mainly devoted to disaster relief. The Red Cross flew officially for the first time in US in 1881 when she issued a public appeal for funds and clothing to aid victims of a devastating forest fire in Michigan.
Through her life’s work, Ms. Barton...
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