Clara Barton and the American Red Cross
Reading Comprehension Activity

Clara Barton was a fearless woman. Her desire to help Union soldiers during the Civil War led her to be known as the “Angel of the Battlefield.” This desire also led her to work to create the American Red Cross. after reading the passage, students will answer questions on the details and the figurative language used in the selection.

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Clara packed her things at the Patent Office and went to her boss. “It’s been a pleasure working with you, but I’m quitting my job.” She turned and left.

“What are you doing home so early?” asked her sister Sally.

“The Civil War is taking its toll on the Union soldiers. I need to help them.”

Sally puckered her lips and looked around the room. “I’m going with you.”

The two volunteered at the Washington Infirmary.

After several months, Clara became restless. “Sally, this isn’t enough. I need to help the soldiers in the field and on the front lines. I’m leaving in the morning.”

Sally’s brows rose into her forehead. “Sally! You can’t. It’s too dangerous.”

“The front line soldiers who need help are in greater danger.”

Clara got donations where she could and used her own savings to buy supplies. She traveled from battle to battle with three army wagons. She also organized men to give first aid, carry water, and prepare food for the wounded.

After many months of battlefield after battlefield, Clara confided in her friend Rachel. “I finally received official permission to bring supplies to battlefields. The wounded soldiers are so appreciative of all I do, they’ve named me the  “Angel of the Battlefield.”

“That’s wonderful,” said Rachel. “You certainly deserve the recognition. You’re one of the bravest women I know.”

After the Civil War ended, Clara went to Europe to rest her body and mind. So many years of helping soldiers and their families had worn her down.

While visiting Switzerland, Clara learned of the International Red Cross. Its mission to help war victims around the world ignited interest and excitement in Clara. It also sparked an idea.

When she returned home, Clara worked to establish an American Red Cross. She even met with President Hayes to discuss it. Finally, on May 21, 1881, the American Red Cross was formed. A month later, Clara was elected president of the organization.

Comprehension Questions

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