March is Women’s History Month! This month, we will be highlighting important women who advocated for people experiencing homelessness and those living in poverty. The first woman that we will be highlighting is Clara Barton (1821-1912).
As a girl, Clara grew up caring for her ill brother. At the age of 18, she began teaching and founded a school for workers’ children at her brother’s mill. In 1852, Clara moved to Bordentown, New Jersey where she established the first free school. She resigned from this position after learning the school hired a man at twice her salary.
In 1854 she was the first woman hired as a recording clerk at the US Patent Office. Her position was eventually eliminated due to the feeling that women should not hold positions in government.
When the Civil War began in 1861, she began bringing medical supplies to Union soldiers and tending to the wounded. She was known as the “angel of the battlefield”. After traveling to Europe and returning to the United States, Clara was responsible for the creation of the American Association of the Red Cross. Clara was elected president of the Red Cross and aided with disasters, helping families experiencing homelessness and poverty, and was a supporter of women’s suffrage.