American Red Cross History Essay

The American Red Cross history begins on May 21, 1881, when it was founded by Clara Barton. Read some fun facts about the American Red Cross here, plus a brief history about the organization.

The American Red Cross history has to begin with Clara Barton’s birth in 1821, since she was the founder of the American Red Cross. She was a school teacher and then a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office. She was working at the Patent Office when casualties from the Baltimore Riots were brought to Washington. She organized a relief effort for the soldiers, and began a lifelong work in helping others.

The International Red Cross had been founded in Switzerland in 1863, and Barton lobbied hard for an American version. She founded the American Red Cross in 1881, and led the organization for the next 23 years. She resigned as head of American Red Cross in 1904.

“I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.” – Clara Barton

The first disaster relief operation that the new American Red Cross helped with was just a few days after the founding of the first local chapter in Dansville, NY was started. They helped with the relief effort after major forest fires devastated an area in Michigan.

The Red Cross was given a congressional charter on June 6th, 1900. Having this charter meant that the American Red Cross would be able to provide help to wounded soldiers during war, be a “go between” between military personnel and their families. In times of peace, they could supply relief when natural disasters hit. The charter also protected the Red Cross logo from being used by other organizations. The Red Cross emblem is a red cross on a white background – now known around the world.

Fun Fact: During the Civil War, Clara Barton earned the nicknamed “Angel of the Battlefield”. With no prior nursing experience, she worked as a nurse on battlefields… even operating on a wounded man, removing a bullet from his face.

Fun Facts About American Red Cross History

  • Founded on May 21, 1881 by Clara Barton
  • Largest volunteer organization in America
  • The American Red Cross is an independent organization, not a government agency
  • All disaster relief provided by the American Red Cross is given free of charge as a gift from the American people.
  • Over one million people are trained as American Red Cross volunteers
  • Granted a charter by the U.S. Congress in 1900
  • In 1905, the charter was revised to enhance the effectiveness of the American Red Cross as a national society responsible for disaster relief and service to members of the military and their families.
  • Red Cross established a national blood program in 1948, starting Red Cross blood drives. Red Cross blood donations provide approximately half of America’s needed blood supply each year.
  • After World War II, the American Red Cross began a program to collect blood for civilians
  • The American Red Cross provides relief to millions of people all over the world, helping during times of war and disaster.
  • Red Cross Posters are a popular collectible, with many featuring famous movie stars or illustrated by famous artists.
  • Another fun Red Cross collectible is old Red Cross emergency kits and supplies. As with many collectibles, you can often find great items to add to a Red Cross collection on eBay.
High School
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