Skip to main content

A Bulwark Against Mighty Woes

July 2024
1min read

The Hundredth Anniversary of the American Red Cross


The Red Cross “shall constitute a bulwark against the mighty woes sure to come sooner or later to all people and all nations,” said Clara Barton in 1904, toward the end of her stewardship of the durable institution she had organized in 1881. After nursing and ministering to soldiers during the Civil War, she visited the Continent and became involved with its European predecessor, the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had been founded at Geneva in 1863 to aid all victims of war. She returned home to found the American Association of the Red Cross, which she headed for twenty-three years.

Now, a hundred years later, the Red Cross is the nation’s largest voluntary service organization. On the eve of its second century, it has assembled a pictorial autobiography, using photographs from its own vast collection and from the National Archives. AMERICAN HERITAGE presents a selection of pictures of the organization’s early years, drawn from this imposing trove, which soon will be published by Harper & Row as a book, written and edited by Patrick F. Gilbo, and entitled The American Red Cross: The First Century .


Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.