Letterbooks: American Red Cross, 1899-1911, Reflection and Retirement

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These letterbooks represent a time when Clara Barton reflected upon her life’s work, especially her success in creating and sustaining the American Red Cross. In 1899, Barton had begun to work on the first of her book projects, The Red Cross in Peace and War (1899) and she would later publish A Story of the Red Cross (1904), and The Story of My Childhood (1907). In 1904 Barton retired as President of the American Red Cross and then founded the National First Aid Association of America in 1905. There is also evidence in these letterbooks of the Red Cross response to the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).

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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