Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

EconKids Home Older Children and Young Adults: 2011 Clara Barton: DK Biography / by Stephen Krensky

Clara Barton: DK Biography / by Stephen Krensky


Title:  Clara Barton: DK Biography
Author: Stephen Krensky
Publisher:  DK Publishing
ISBN:  978-0-7566-7279-9
Year:  2011

Concepts: careers, economics of gender, education, discrimination, human resources, altruism, economic role of government

Review: As the founder and first president of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton's name has become familiar all over the world, yet fewer people know about her background and what motivated her humanitarian endeavors. Born as Clarissa Harlowe Barton in 1821 to strong-willed parents, Clara gained her first experience with medicine as a pre-adolescent caring for her injured older brother over a three-year period. She went on to become a reform-minded teacher who believed strongly in the provision of a free education to any child in need. She subsequently worked as a clerk in the U.S. patent office, and when the Civil War broke out, Clara served as a nurse and advocate for injured soldiers.

Working at a time when women were considered second class citizens, Clara faced a number of obstacles in each of these positions, including unequal pay, harassment, and demotion. Overcoming these difficulties and witnessing the immense suffering during the war fueled her determination to fight her biggest battle of all in establishing the American chapter of the International Red Cross.

This carefully-researched narrative provides a helpful resource for young history buffs who want to learn more about key moments in Clara Barton's childhood, schooling, working life, and humanitarian efforts. The book describes how economic factors such as gender inequality in the labor market, racial discrimination, altruism, and the economic role of government shaped Clara's thoughts about social policy and institutional reforms. The book's large collection of photographs nicely complement the text and make clear to readers the progression of Clara Barton's hard work toward social justice. 

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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