Clara Barton: American Pioneer and Humanitarian

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Clarrissa Harlowe "Clara" Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) American pioneer, teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian. She is best remembered for organizing the NJ Free Public School System and the American Red Cross.

Establishment of the the New Jersey Public School System

Photo Courtesy of the Bordentown Historical Society

Welcome to the Clara Barton School House, the first successful free public school in NJ funded by taxes from local Bordentown residents. Clara Barton was most famous for later founding the American Red Cross (an organization that provides emergency disaster relief and education) began her career in 1881 as a teacher in her hometown in Eastern Massachusetts. Barton was only 17. She then attended the liberal Institution in New York in order to further here education as a teacher and during this time became very close with fellow student Mary Norton of Hightstown, NJ. While visiting Mary the two took a social visit to Bordentown, NJ where Barton noticed all of the young boys playing in the streets. Barton went to the school committee and found they had already passed legislation for a free public school but never began one. With Barton’s persistence they gave her a small one room school house that started with 6 students in 1852 and by 1853 grew to 600 students, a number so large that other teachers began to educate students in homes spread throughout Bordentown. Barton eventually went on to work in Washington at the US Patient office after a serve case of laryngitis kept her out of the classroom for several months which caused her to be replaced as principal of the Bordentown free public schools. Barton only spent a few years in Washington before the Civil war broke out, during which time she created the American Red Cross.