Founder of The American Red Cross
Clarissa Harlowe Barton, known as Clara, is one of the most honored women in American history. Barton’s family directed their painfully shy daughter to become a teacher. She began teaching at age 18, founded a school for workers’ children at her brother’s mill when she was 24, and after moving to Bordentown, New Jersey, established the first free school there in 1852. She resigned when she discovered that the school had hired a man at twice her salary, saying she would never work for less than a man.Barton risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field during the Civil War. She founded the American Red Cross in 1881, at age 59, and led it for the next 23 years.
Barton’s understanding of the ways she could provide help to people in distress guided her throughout her life. After being directed to become a teacher, and an impressively successful one at that, she took her passions elsewhere. Barton did not succumb to limitations placed on her by family, friends or society. By the force of her personal example, she opened paths to the new field of volunteer service. Her intense devotion to serving others resulted in enough achievements to fill several ordinary lifetimes. Barton was a fierce advocate for women's equality.