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Profile of the Day: Clara Barton

On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C.

Image: Clara Barton / Library of Congress

Barton became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” during the American Civil War for her tireless work with the sick and wounded. She often risked her life to bring supplies and aid to soldiers in the field. At the end of the war, she ran the Office of Missing Soldiers to identify and locate soldiers that were killed or missing in action. Thanks to Barton’s efforts, the office was able to locate over 22,000 missing soldiers.

During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, she worked for the International Red Cross behind German lines. After the war, she returned to the U.S. and campaigned for the establishment of an American Red Cross organization which could provide emergency response in the event of crisis from war or natural disasters. Barton served as the American Red Cross’ first president and held the title for 23 years.

Barton died on April 12, 1912 at the age of 90.

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