Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office
“What she did in nursing is incredibly important and we don’t want to diminish that at all. But to say that Clara Barton is a nurse is a gross understatement of her importance. The fact is that she was a relief organizer at a time when women didn’t do that. At a time when women found that they had to get men involved in order to be taken seriously, Clara Barton bucked that system.” George Wunderlich, Executive Director, NMCWM
Below is a short preview of CSPAN-3′s show American Artifacts featuring two episodes on the CBMSO.
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Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office 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. She used this property not only as a place to live, but also to store the supplies she received for her work on the battlefield, and later as an office to handle correspondence concerning missing soldiers.
In 1865 Barton hired a staff and opened the “Office of Correspondence with the Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army” in this building. At the end of the war, Barton took up the cause of grieving parents, family and friends whose sons, brothers, neighbors were missing. She responded to over 63,000 letters, most of which required some kind of research that eventually lead to published lists of the names of the missing so that anyone with knowledge of their whereabouts or death could contact her. By the time the office closed in 1867, she had identified the fate of over 22,000 men.
“I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent.” -Clara Barton (1821 to 1912)
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