Clara Barton (1821-1912), was a pioneering nurse during the Civil War, and founder of the American Association of the International Red Cross on May 21, 1881. Barton was educated at home, and at 15 started teaching school. She later attended the Liberal Institute in Clinton, New York. Here she took writing and language courses and then opened a "free school" in New Jersey. However, she was insulted when the board hired a man to head the school rather than herself, so she moved to Washington, DC to start afresh. Here she found employment at the U.S. Patent Office as a clerk—the first time a woman had received such work at a federal position.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Clara decided to stop drawing a salary from the government and campaigned to be allowed in the forefront of the battle, aiding soldiers directly. No women had been allowed on the battlefield, or war hospitals until that time. She was eventually accepted by the soldiers, who began calling her the "Angel of the Battlefield". She was named Superintendent Union Nurses in 1864, a year before the war's end, and through her new title was able to provide supplies, assistants and training directly to the frontlines.