CLARA BARTON

DISCOVERED HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS UNCOVER
THE FIRST OFFICIAL MISSING PERSONS
INVESTIGATOR, CLARA BARTON
By Barbara Maikell-Thomas
 

 
Gary Scott, a National Park Service regional historian very recently uncovered boxes of civil war memorabilia in a attic of a governmental building slated for demolition. What was found point in the direction that the first missing persons specialists was very likely a woman.
Miss Clara Barton was born in North Oxford Mass., in the year 1821. Before the Civil War broke out, she was a teacher and governmental worker. When the Civil broke out, she became one of the famous "Angel's Of The Battlefield". Her job turned into a one of nursing and ministering to wounded soldiers, sometimes in hospitals and sometimes of the blood spilled battlefields. Barton went on to establish the American Red Cross in 1881, making her a very famous and important figure in our country.

The lesser-known period of Baton's life, the post civil-war; per Red Cross, is now coming in to the spot light because of this very recent and exciting finding of documents found by a construction worker in a sealed crawl space. A government building that sits halfway between the White House and the Capitol once housed Clara Barton's "Missing Persons Office."



After the Civil War a prisoner of war brought Barton a list of dead soldiers who had been detained in the Andersonville Confederate Prison camp in Georgia. Barton returned to Andersonville and was able to mark the graves of thousands of Soldiers. 45,000 Union soldiers were detained at Andersonville, 13,000 dying from extreme exposure, disease and starvation. Thanks to Miss Barton publishing a list of those names in newspapers, many people were able to learn the fate of their loved ones, and also where they were buried.
People begin sending Barton thousands of letters pleading for help in finding their missing family members. Barton then became the first woman to run a government bureau "The Missing Soldier's Office." Miss Barton tracked down missing soldiers by various methods. Not only did she publish prisoner of war lists, she took the names of those sent to her, compiled lists and sent them to post offices across the country. As in our modern day profession of skip tracing, many dead beats and intentional skips where also found.

Among the items discovered were clothes, slippers and household items that indicated that the office many have been used as a residence for Miss Barton. Within the discovered material, a sign was found that marked the location of her missing persons office. The sign read:
 

 MISSING SOLDIERS OFFICE
3RD STORY ROOM 9
Miss Clara Barton
 

Also found were many documents pertaining to her office. Historians say that Clara Barton's operation tracked down 22,000 men from the 1865 to 1868. After going on to establish the American Red Cross in 1861, Clara Barton died in 1912.

From The Ralph D. Thomas PI Vintage Collection
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