Letterbooks: American Red Cross 1891-1898

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These volumes document Red Cross relief efforts in 1893 for hurricane victims on the Sea Islands, South Carolina. In an October 1893 telegram Barton predicts that Sea Islands relief work would involve meeting the needs of “thirty thousand people for eight long months with no aid from the Government,” which later accounts of the relief effort suggest was not far from the reality. There is also documentation of Barton’s role in efforts in 1896 and 1897 to offer assistance to Armenians who were being massacred by government authorities and suffering from famine in Turkey, then a part of the Ottoman Empire.

The Clara Barton Papers letterbooks include outgoing letters and memos sent by Clara Barton, Julian B. Hubbell, Barton's associate and chief field agent of the Red Cross, and other Red Cross officials such as George H. Pullman and Stephen E. Barton, Barton’s nephew. . The correspondence reflects communications with the International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva and local Red Cross chapters in the U.S. Also included are copies of telegrams, letters, and narrative reports from various disaster relief operations and records of camp service. Occasionally, copies of Barton’s personal correspondence also appear. While the letterbooks have been divided chronologically, they frequently overlap making it challenging to find all related correspondence for a particular event or time period.

An important note on Letterbooks:

Letterbooks are bound volumes containing copies of correspondence on thin, tissue-like pages. The sender created these copies in order to have a record of outgoing letters. The front of each volume typically contains an index of the included correspondents and subjects. The thin pages in these particular letterbooks present two transcription challenges: text bleed-through and mirror image text from preceding pages. Bleed-through can make transcribing a page more difficult, but try your best to decipher the document. Mark pages of mirror image text as “nothing to transcribe" and go to the proceeding page to view and transcribe the document.

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