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The DAR and the Red Cross share a long-standing relationship of coming together in service to America and a mutual commitment to supporting people in need, in particular related to past wartime relief efforts. View this slideshow showing some of the long history of DAR and the Red Cross working together.

The friendship between the Daughters of the American Revolution and the American Red Cross goes far beyond just their neighboring headquarters buildings in downtown Washington, D.C. Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881, and nine years later was also one of the founding members of the DAR when it was organized in 1890.

During WWI, many DAR members became American Red Cross volunteers and provided substantial financial support to the relief organization. During WWII, DAR Headquarters became a center of wartime activity. Almost every room that could be spared in the DAR buildings, were given to the American Red Cross for such efforts as  the Prisoner of War Office, a day nursery for the children of enlisted men whose wives were working, and a War Service Center to entertain servicemen. Constitution Hall also hosted a number of Red Cross War Relief concerts. DAR chapters and individual members also did their part. DAR member contributions supported the important Red Cross Blood Plasma Fund and helped to buy ambulances, trucks, and mobile canteens. Additionally, some 112,000 DAR members volunteered over 26 million hours for the Red Cross.

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and led it for the next 23 years.  At the first DAR organizing meeting on October 11, 1890, Clara Barton was appointed DAR Surgeon General (an office no longer in existence in the organization), based on her already renowned nursing and relief efforts to soldiers during the Civil War and her founding of the American Red Cross.  However, she pursued a number of different careers before that, including teaching and as a copyist in the U.S. Patent Office.  She left the Patent Office to tend to the soldiers when the Civil War erupted and she learned that so many suffered from lack of medical supplies.  Learn more about Clara Barton: http://www.redcross.org/about-us/history/clara-barton

A depiction of Clara Barton providing comfort and care to wounded soldiers. Known for her compassion and bravery, time and again she crossed enemy lines to assist the wounded.  Before the Civil War was over Clara Barton’s name had come to mean mercy and help for the wounded in war or peace alike.

DAR member Jane Arminda Delano was a pioneer of the modern nursing profession, who almost single-handedly created American Red Cross nursing when she united the work of the American Nurses Association, the Army Nurse Corps, and the American Red Cross. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, she became a member of the New York Chapter of the American Red Cross and served as the secretary for the enrollment of nurses.  In 1909 she became Superintendent of the United States Army Nurse Corps.  Through her efforts, emergency response teams were organized for disaster relief and over 8,000 registered nurses were trained and ready for duty by the time the United States entered World War I.  Jane Delano died in France while on a Red Cross mission in 1919 and was buried in the American military cemetery at Savenay, France.  Awarded the Distinguished Service Medal posthumously, she was brought home one year later by the Army Quartermaster Corps and re-interred in Arlington National Cemetery on April 15, 1920.  Her last words were, “I must get back to my work.”  She was a member of the Judge Lynn Chapter in the District of Columbia.  

This 1914 photo shows DAR Member Jane A. Delano who began the American Red Cross Nursing Services with a group of her nurses before going to Europe.

The DAR members of the Mercy Warren Chapter of Springfield, Massachusetts, did indeed show true mercy in their early chapter work.  In this 1919 photo, dozens of members and volunteers are attending an all-day meeting and training session of their War Relief Service Committee for Red Cross work.  During WWI, members of the chapter also staffed a victory bread shop, hosted first aid classes, bought war bonds and stamps, made a donation of $301.50 to help rebuild the entire water system in the city of Tilloloy in France, made 17,700 articles of clothing, held clothing drives for Belgian relief, and adopted 12 French orphans.

In the summer of 1941, in response to the American Red Cross expanding its activities during the onset of WWII, the DAR turned over the spacious corridors of Constitution Hall to office workers. In this newspaper photo taken during that time, President General Helena R. Pouch, far right, gets a closer look at the signs posted on the lawn of Memorial Continental Hall proudly proclaiming the loan of space in its headquarters to the American Red Cross. Even before the United States entered the war, the Daughters rallied their support in the war effort, as reported in monthly issues of the DAR National Historical Magazine throughout 1942. The north Museum was dismantled and became the War Service Room used by “a great number of Daughters for work for the American Red Cross such as knitting, sewing, etc.” Two large conference rooms as well as the Banquet Hall provided additional space for “classes in Orientation and Military and Naval Welfare Training to train Red Cross staff for work in the hospitals and recreational centers.” The rooms held as many as one hundred workers each.

On November 2, 1942, the Red Cross opened a day nursery for fifteen children in three rooms in the basement of Constitution Hall.  The nursery, headed by Mary Perrine Patterson Davidson of the Red Cross who was also a DAR member, was the first day nursery of the Red Cross in the District of Columbia.  The nursery provided care to the children of service men whose wives had taken employment.

A Red Cross volunteer reads to young children on the lawn beside the DAR Administration Building.  The children attended a day nursery in the DAR Headquarters building during WWII.

Under the arms of the DAR Founders Monument are some of the little ones who attended the American Red Cross nursery in the DAR building during World War II.

As captured in this poster, in addition to donating blood, the DAR helped support the Red Cross Blood Donor Project by contributing $148,582 for the equipment pictured:  “38 mobile units, 15 station wagons and cars, 20 centers equipped . . . thousands saved with plasma.” At both the national and chapter levels, support provided by the DAR during World War II was probably one of the most concentrated efforts of service ever undertaken by the Daughters.  Chapters and state societies funded ambulances and Red Cross blood donor mobile units such as those pictured here, while the DAR Headquarters became a center of wartime activity.

Many DAR state societies and chapters donated money to fund Red Cross mobile blood units as seen in this photo.

Many DAR state societies and chapters donated money to fund Red Cross mobile blood units as seen in this photo.

Many DAR state societies and chapters donated money to fund Red Cross mobile blood units as seen in this photo.

DAR members often funded “buddy bags” that the Red Cross would send to soldiers.

As seen in this photo, the Colorado State Society donated the furnishings for the Denver Blood Donor Center.