Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office

 Note: This article was published in 2012. The Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum is now open. Visit its webpage for more details.


The Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office (CBMSO) was originally rediscovered by Richard Lyons of the General Services Administration (GSA) in 1996, when the building was scheduled for demolition. Located on 7th street, NW, Washington D.C., the site is the location where Clara Barton lived during and immediately after the Civil War.

The CBMSO is a true time capsule of Civil War era urban living located in historic downtown Washington D.C.  Visitors can explore aspects of Clara Barton’s life including her boarding room where she lived for eight years, her office where she was able to identify over 22,000 missing soldiers, her experiences in the Civil War, and her conception of humanitarian relief in organization and delivery.  Miss Barton pioneered the relief of victims of war and natural disasters and is a stunning example of how one person can make a monumental difference in the world. 


Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Comprehensive Project

The total estimated project cost is $6.25 million. The General Services Administration made the first generous commitment of $1.75 million to outfit the building and prepare it for occupancy. The remaining $4.5 million is budgeted in two phases. Phase one: $1 million will cover the costs to fabricate exhibits, hire staffing, promote and market the facility and cover operating expenses for the first three years. Phase two: an additional $3.5 million will be set aside in an endowment to secure financial sustainability and to protect this Washington cultural institution against the impact of an uncertain economy. The museum is scheduled to open in early 2013 and will require private philanthropic contributions totaling $500,000 by year-end 2012.

Breakdown of Fundraising

Estimated Costs





Committed by GSA



Minimum Cost to open doors


Operating Year 1 (2013)



Operating Year 2 (2014)



Operating Year 3 (2015)



Endowment (ongoing)

Long-term fundraising





Fundraising Campaigns

Clara Barton Centennial Fund – $100 from 100 people
The Barton Brigade – $100 per month for 12 months
Clara Barton Aid Society – All giving

Our Partners

The National Park Service, The General Services Administration, The National Museum of Health and Medicine, United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Henry M. Jackson Foundation, The Kiplinger Foundation, Frederick County Public Schools, Hood College, Joint Medical Executive Skills Institute, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, The Smithsonian, Destination DC, District of Columbia Public Schools

Our Credentials

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, American Bus Association


Training of nearly 5,000 United States Military Medical Personnel, free electronic Middle School Lesson Plans integrated into the State of Maryland Curriculum, television appearances on BBC, National Geographic, NBC, Smithsonian Channel, History Channel, PBS, MPT, C-Span, Irish National Television, Armenian Television, CBC, A&E, Modern Marvels and Swedish National Television



 During the Civil War, Miss Clara Barton was active in a number of humanitarian efforts.  From this location, Clara assisted families by learning the fate of their loved ones lost in the massive military records system.  Many of these soldiers were prisoners, killed in action and/or not recorded as being admitted to a hospital.  Her office answered over 63,000 letters between 1865 and 1868.  Her efforts were the first to identify soldiers missing in action; a legacy that survives to this day.  This changed the disposition of over 22,000 missing soldiers.  Although she is primarily known for her work as a nurse, she could also be found collecting and distributing medical supplies, as well as lobbying politicians and the army for better conditions for soldiers. 

Location and Facility:

 The museum will be located in Clara’s wartime office and living space at 437 1/2 7th street NW, at the corner of 7th and E in between the Starbucks and Carmine’s Restaurant directly across from the Shakespeare Theatre.  This location is a veritable national treasure as the portion of the building Miss Barton used has been mostly unoccupied since the last quarter of the nineteenth century.   Due to this limited use of the space, much of the character of the building has survived unchanged since her occupation.  Wallpaper, finishes and modifications she made to the building remain as a time capsule.  Although damaged by poor maintenance and environmental issues, the space is remarkably intact and worthy of preserving for interpretation.

The facility measures 2500 square feet.  The museum will occupy 2 levels of a 19th century 3 story building.  The first floor will be a retail/merchandise area and welcome center.  The third floor will be outfitted for interpretative space that houses exhibits, artifacts and an educational area. When the location was discovered over a decade ago, a stash of personal belongings was found in an attic space.  Much of this material can be traced to Miss Barton and her landlord.  These artifacts (many of which are one-of-a-kind) tell a unique story in a unique space.  Together the artifact collection and space present an unprecedented look into life in Washington during the Civil War. 

The new museum will be open 7 days a week to the public, allowing flexibility for tourists, museum goers and walkers by.  Future programming will also include scheduled field trips for area school systems and even outreach programs that could reach an international audience.


 GSA has been searching for a management partner to open this space as a Museum since its discovery.  The NMCWM was chosen in 2011 as the only potential partner capable of carrying out the vital task of interpretation and management.  Our national accreditation, previous federal government partnerships and our proven ability to open new locations while maintaining institutional strength were the deciding factors in this choice.  To date, the NMCWM comprises 3 distinct entities that allow us to interpret, educate and entertain the country around Civil War issues; the Carty Building, The Pry House Field Hospital and the Letterman Institute for Leadership Training

Under our agreement, GSA will preserve the historic space and provide the Museum with a first floor visitor area with no cost to the Museum.  The Museum will cover the costs of interpretation, manpower, basic internal systems (phone, sales equipment, security systems, display cases, etc.) and marketing. 

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The Barton Patient Rolls

Search through the patient list from Clara Barton’s records.

The Barton Rolls

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