Archive for November, 2010

A New Era

Clara Barton

 The Museum has been going through a number of changes in recent times.  We have updated several galleries, developed a new website, begun new leadership training programs and much more.  These are all quite significant but there is one event that truly stands above the rest. 

In October, the Board of Directors of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine singed an agreement with the General Services Administration outlining a plan to open Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office as a museum.  This historic office was first found over a decade ago by GSA employee Richard Lyons.  Since that discovery, it has been stabilized and is awaiting conservation.  Once the conservation is completed, the NMCWM will open the location to the public. 

Clara Barton’s office (room #9 at 437 7th Street in Washington DC) provides the Museum with a unique opportunity to highlight and interpret the war-time career of one of America’s humanitarians.  Her work as a medical relief organizer and nurse is well known.  Unfortunately her work in locating missing soldiers is much less understood. 

During the operation of the Missing Soldiers Office Clara and her staff answered over 66,000 pieces of correspondence!  This effort alone is remarkable until you consider that the same staff also raised funds to support the cost of the work and compiled and published updated lists of the missing for national publication. Her DC office has been credited with determining the fate of over 22,000 missing soldiers. In May of 1865 Clara left for a period of time to help locate and mark the graves of the men who died in the Andersonville prison.    She was accompanied by Mr. Dorence Atwater who, as a prisoner himself,  kept records of the dead for the Confederate commander.   Her work at Andersonville helped identify the graves of all but 460 of the nearly 12,000 graves.

Her accomplishments are not fully understood by most Americans today, but we hope to work with our partners to change that for future generations.  We look forward to developing  new leadership curriculums based on her work as humanitarian, organizer, manager and activist.  We also hope to use the new museum location to educate visitors on her incredible accomplishments. I hope that you will join us in honoring Clara Barton as one of America’s greatest leaders.

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November 17, 2010 at 11:28 am Leave a comment


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