navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies Communities
Biographies Unit Biographies

Clara Barton 1821–1912
Founder of the American Red Cross

Clara Barton worked to help people all her life. Barton was only 15 when she began working as a schoolteacher near her home in Massachusetts. In 1852, she began the first free public school in New Jersey.

During the Civil War, Barton risked her life to help the Union soldiers. She collected and brought supplies to the battlefields. Barton also took care of wounded soldiers. She searched for soldiers who were missing. She became known as the “angel of the battlefield.”

In 1869, Barton went to Europe. She began working with the International Red Cross. This was a group that wanted to help people in countries that were at war. Barton formed the American Red Cross when she returned to the United States. Barton wanted the American Red Cross to help people all the time, not only during wars. The Red Cross began to help people hurt by natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods. Barton kept working to help people in need. She was the president of the American Red Cross until she was 83.

Comprehension Check

Why was Clara Barton called “the angel of the battlefield”?

Critical Thinking

Why did Clara Barton found the American Red Cross?