Clara Barton – Highlights of an Extraordinary Life

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Clara Barton Extraordinary Life

Clarissa Harlowe Barton, known as Clara, is one of the most honored women in American history. Barton risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field during the Civil War. She founded the American Red Cross in 1881, at age 59, and led it for the next 23 years. Her understanding of the ways she could provide help to people in distress guided her throughout her life. By the force of her personal example, she opened paths to the new field of volunteer service. Her intense devotion to serving others resulted in enough achievements to fill several ordinary lifetimes. Clara Barton Extraordinary Life

Clara Barton was working in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, DC when the Civil War began. Like many women, she helped collect bandages and other much-needed supplies, but she soon realized that she could best support the troops by going in person to the battlefields. Throughout many major battles of the war, she nursed, comforted, and cooked for the wounded, earning the nickname the “Angel of the Battlefield.” Clara Barton Extraordinary Life

When her service to the Union soldiers was complete, Barton traveled to Europe. There, she became aware of the Geneva, Switzerland-based Red Cross, which called for international agreements to protect the sick and wounded during wartime and for the formation of national societies to give aid voluntarily on a neutral basis.

Upon her return home, Barton was determined that the United States should participate in the global Red Cross network. Working with influential friends and contacts such as Frederick Douglass, she founded the American Red Cross in 1881. Barton served as president of the organization until 1904 when she resigned at age 83.

Clara Barton died on April 12, 1912, at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland. Her legacy to the nation—service to humanity—is reflected in the services provided daily by the employees and volunteers of the American Red Cross. Clara Barton Extraordinary Life

United States Special Passport, Number 11793, issued on 5th February 1898 by the 36th Secretary of State – William R. Day, who served only for five months. Hence, passports issued during his post and by him are pretty rare to find. This passport was issued by him as acting Secretary due to the declining health and failing memory of Secretary John Sherman. The passport reads…

“Miss Clara Barton, a citizen of the United States, President of the Red Cross Society in the United States, is about to proceed to Cuba by designation of the President of the United States and under direction of the Secretary of State for the purpose of distributing money and supplies to the suffering people of Cuba.” A pretty bold statement!

Clara Barton Extraordinary Life
Clara Barton Papers: Red Cross File, -1957; American National Red Cross, 1878 to 1957; Relief operations; Spanish-American War; Passport, passes, and letters of introduction, 1898. 1898. Manuscript/Mixed Material. https://www.loc.gov/item/mss119730740/.
FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...