Clara Barton: Professional Angel

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University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987 - 444 pages

Widely known today as the "Angel of the Battlefield," Clara Barton's personal life has always been shrouded in mystery. In Clara Barton, Professional Angel, Elizabeth Brown Pryor presents a biography of Barton that strips away the heroic exterior and reveals a complex and often trying woman.

Based on the papers Clara Barton carefully saved over her lifetime, this biography is the first one to draw on these recorded thoughts. Besides her own voluminous correspondence, it reflects the letters and reminiscences of lovers, a grandniece who probed her aunt's venerable facade, and doctors who treated her nervous disorders. She emerges as a vividly human figure. Continually struggling to cope with her insecure family background and a society that offered much less than she had to give, she chose achievement as the vehicle for gaining the love and recognition that frequently eluded her during her long life.

Not always altruistic, her accomplishments were nonetheless extraordinary. On the battlefields of the Civil War, in securing American participation in the International Red Cross, in promoting peacetime disaster relief, and in fighting for women's rights, Clara Barton made an unparalleled contribution to American social progress. Yet the true measure of her life must be made from this perspective: she dared to offend a society whose acceptance she treasured, and she put all of her energy into patching up the lives of those around her when her own was rent and frayed.

 

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Clara Barton: professional angel

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Barton established and headed the American Red Cross, was superintendent of a women's reformatory, played a key role in providing medical aid and relief to Civil War battlefronts, and helped establish ... Read full review

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Professional Angel
1
notes
375

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About the author (1987)

Elizabeth Brown Pryor is an American diplomat and historian, most recently as senior advisor to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe of the U.S. Congress. Her book Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters was awarded the Lincoln Prize for 2008.

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