BARTON, Clara (1821-1912), Founder of the American Red Cross. An archive comprising: 14 autograph letters signed, 10 autograph cards signed, 1 typed letter signed, 7 printed documents signed and 2 carte-de-visites, all to S. Louise Phelps, 1880-1910. Various formats, letters on stationery of American National Red Cross, Reformatory Prison for Women, American Association of the Red Cross, etc. Together 90pp., all in excellent condition.. [With:] 3 ALS to Phelps from Barton's companion J. B. Hubbell, and 2 secretarial letters to Phelps.
A ARCHIVE THAT DOCUMENTS A LIFE OF SERVICE. Barton's rich archive spans 30 of the most active years of her life, and offers revealing insights into the private as well as the public woman. The sheer range of her activities is astonishing. She sends Phelps a copy of her speech before a GOP gathering in the 1880 campaign; her 21 October 1883 letter describes her appearance before the "Women's Congress" in Chicago; and in addition to running the American Red Cross, she also took the reins of the Reformatory Prison for Women at Sherburn in 1883, where she writes: "I am already the Superintendent, and...I am to take the place of treasurer and steward as well with full responsibilities of all the property, and all the work-discipline, purchasing & distribution. You will see I have no time but to love my friends, none to serve them." She was not complaining: "Hard work agrees with me," she writes in May 1880.
Such energy and commitment took its toll. In April 1885 she explains: "I got by some means a lame back, with several other accompaniments; and as all were the children of one mother--overwork--I applied the same 'correction' to all, viz., 'shutting them up in the bedroom' to stay till they could behave better. They all promise most earnestly, but I am firm with them, and do not let them out of doors." Some of the letters have an emotional fervor that suggest a deep intimacy between Barton and Phelps, a New Jersey artist: "I knew you at [first] sight, for just what you are become to me. I said in my heart I shall cherish and hold her close to me, and no matter what distance divides, she is not to be lost to me. And so it must be my darling. I must, for the little time I may need, keep you within sound of my mind's voice. I must be able to reach you with my thoughts."
Another vivid and powerful theme of the archive is the legacy of Barton's famous activities during the Civil War and her extraordinary service as a battlefield nurse. Her June 1880 letter reports her attendance at "Decoration Day" services at Arlington National Cemetery: "a terrific rainstorm and a sad disappointment to the participation but I fancy it was all the same to the hosts that rested under the greensward." One of the signed pamphlets contains a tribute to Julia Ward Howe that Barton delivered in New York in 1910. And perhaps the most moving statement of this theme comes in the 1888 letter of Barton's long-time companion, Dr. J.B. Hubbell, explaining to Phelps why Barton was unable to visit her: she was in Massachusetts, he said, attending the reunion of the "Old 21st Regiment. They claim her as one of their own number and fairly worship her."
Together 39 items.