Clara Barton, "the Angel of the Battlefield," was born on Christmas Day, 1821. She became a teacher, founded her own school, and became the first woman to work as a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office. With the onset of the Civil War, Clara refused a governmental salary and devoted herself to care for wounded soldiers. When she discovered that many soldiers were dying because of lack of medical supplies, Barton organized donation and distribution of supplies. Because of her efforts, the U.S. Surgeon General gave her permission to visit battleground hospitals to nurse the soldiers. She was appointed Superintendent of Nurses in 1864 and worked on sixteen different battlefields, thus earning her nickname.
After the war, Barton organized a program to search for missing soldiers. In 1869 she traveled to Europe and heard about the International Red Cross. When she returned to America, Barton encouraged the United States to join this organization. She also expanded the Red Cross to include peacetime needs, such as epidemics and natural disasters. Barton's vision continues today in the organization she headed until she retired at age 83.
Clara Barton was also active in the women's rights movement before she died in Maryland on April 12, 1912.