TwHP Lessons

Clara Barton's House:
Home of the American Red Cross

[Cover photo] Clara Barton
(Clara Barton National Historic Site)

[Cover photo] Clara Barton NHS
(Clara Barton National Historic Site)

Resting on a slight knoll in a quiet, shaded yard above the Potomac River Valley, a large, pale yellow, warehouse-like structure stands as a memorial to the complicated personality and persistent character of Clara Barton. Gazing at the house, one can imagine the click of typewriters as clerks respond to the voluminous correspondence which arrived daily. The murmur of voices can be detected as Barton discusses Red Cross business with her loyal field agents. The smell of the mid-afternoon meal drifts over the house, alerting the staff that even as they work to benefit others, their leader would supply their own needs.

Built in 1891, the structure was initially used as a storehouse for American Red Cross supplies. It was remodeled in 1897 to serve also as the headquarters of the American Red Cross and the home of its founder. Rising three stories high, its 30 rooms soon became crammed with thousands of items stockpiled to help victims of war and natural disasters, box upon box of official Red Cross papers, and Barton's personal belongings. Few homes in America tell more about their owners than the Clara Barton House just outside Washington, D.C.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. The Washington, D.C. area

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Clara Barton, Advocate for Human Rights
 2. Clara Barton and the American Red Cross
 3. The Women Who Went to the Field

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Red Cross Hotel, 1889
 2. Clara Barton's home in Glen Echo, Md., 1897
 3. Floor plans of Clara Barton's Home

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Dealing with Disasters
 2. Women's and Men's Work
 3. Researching the Life of Clara Barton
 4. Local Assistance Groups

Supplementary Resources

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Clara Barton National Historic Site

Teaching with Museum Collections: Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross, Pioneer and Innovator

Teaching with Museum Collections: Clara Barton Needs You!

Teaching with Museum Collections: Preservation at the Clara Barton National Historic Site

American Visionaries: Clara Barton


This lesson is based on the Clara Barton National Historic Site, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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