To kick off Nurses Week, we are starting with Clara Barton, “one of the most honored women in American history.” Known as the “Angel of the Battlefield,” Barton served as a nurse during the Civil War at the battles of Chantilly, Fairfax Station, Fredericksburg, Harpers Ferry, Antietam, South Mountain, Petersburg , Charleston, and Cold Harbor, often at the front line. Not only did she nurse the wounded, she comforted, cooked, read, wrote letters, and prayed for them. Barton also helped establish a national cemetery and identify the graves of 13,000 men at the Andersonville prison in Georgia.
In 1870, in the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Barton was introduced to the International Red Cross. Her time with the organization during the war led her to work with Red Cross officials in Switzerland in an effort to establish a charter in America in 1900. Barton left the organization in 1904 to start the National First Aid Association of America, which emphasized basic first aid instruction, emergency preparedness, and the development of first aid kits. She served as its honorary president for five years.
After publishing several books about founding the American Red Cross, Barton died in 1912 at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland. Her service to the profession of nursing is remembered today through the continued work of the organization.