Now over 150 years old, the Red Cross movement was first conceptualized by Jean Henri Dunant in 1859 after having witnessed The Battle of Solferino in which some 40,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in a single day. In a book he published in 1862 that recounted his observations, titled “A Memory of Solferino,” Dunant suggested creating “permanent societies of volunteers who in time of war would give help to the wounded without regard to their nationality.” The vision for the Red Cross, championed by Gustave Moynier of the Geneva Public Welfare Society, became a reality the following year.
It would not be for another 18 years, however, until the American Red Cross chapter would be founded by Clara Barton in 1881. Regarded as “The Angel of the Battlefield” during the American Civil War for locating and nursing over 1,000 missing soldiers, Barton became the first president of the American Red Cross serving for over two decades.
Today, the Red Cross is a nationwide network consisting of more than 650 chapters, 36 blood services, 500,000 volunteers, and 30,000 employees who annually mobilize relief to people affected by disasters across the globe.