Letterbooks: American Red Cross 1898-1902

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Major American Red Cross events during this time period included relief efforts for refugees in Havana, Cuba, before, during, and after the Spanish-American War, and for victims of a hurricane and tidal wave in Galveston, Texas. Though Barton was near retirement, she traveled to Cuba and Texas to direct these efforts. She was in Cuba when the USS Maine exploded. Dr. Julien Hubbell, a physician and first American Red Cross chief field agent, accompanied Barton in her work in Cuba, and one letterbook contains many of his letters. Other letterbooks demonstrate how work continued at the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. while Barton was away, under Red Cross officials such as David L. Cobb, Harriette L. Reed, Samuel W. Briggs, and Lucy M. Graves. Some correspondence also demonstrates that Barton spent her summers in Oxford, Massachusetts, and sent letters from her Glen Echo, Maryland, home.

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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