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Clara Barton: Topics in Chronicling America

Clara Barton was a nurse, teacher, patent clerk and founded the American Red Cross. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Clara Barton" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers


"Clara Barton describes the Red Cross work in Cuba." January 15, 1899. The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), Image 17. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

In June of 1889, Clara Barton (1821-1912) and 50 American Red Cross volunteers assist the survivors in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, after a massive flood kills over 2,000 residents. The response to this disaster was one of the first major relief efforts organized by the American Red Cross, which Barton founded in 1881. She led the American Red Cross for 23 years, helping establish the organization as a renowned resource of humanitarian aid. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


May 1881 Clara Barton forms the first branch of the American Red Cross and serves as its president.
August 1887 President Cleveland appoints Clara Barton to represent the United States at the International Red Cross Conference in Germany.
June 6, 1889 Barton helps with relief efforts after the devastating flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
1896 Barton sails to Turkey to aid the victims of the Armenian massacre.
February 1898 Barton sets off to Cuba to help the injured during the Cuban insurrection.
September 17, 1900 Barton arrives in Galveston, Texas and directs the distribution of relief supplies to victims of the flood.
March 1904 Red Cross mission of mercy covers the Russo-Japanese War.
May 14, 1904 Barton retires after serving twenty three years as president of the Red Cross Society. Mrs. John A. Logan is named as successor.
April 1905

Barton forms the National First Aid Association of America designed to spread awareness of the importance of first-aid in civilian life.