Generations of Americans have given themselves to help others at home and around the world through the American Red Cross, generously donating time, money and blood. They have helped feed, shelter, and clothe those in need—from thousands of displaced by a hurricane to a family devastated by a fire to a person about to undergo a surgical procedure."Every American a swimmer and every swimmer a lifesaver."
Swiss businessman Henry Dunant published A Memory of Solferino, an account of the devastation on the battlefields of Italy. His story led to the founding of the International Red Cross Movement.
The Red Cross was founded in Geneva, Switzerland to provide non-partisan care to the wounded and sick in times of war. A red cross on a white background was adopted as its emblem.
The Geneva Convention, an international agreement for the humane treatment of soldiers, prisoners and the wounded on the battlefield, was signed by representatives of 12 governments. Over the next eight decades, it was expanded to protect the wounded and sick at sea, prisoners of war and civilians.
Clara Barton, a former teacher, government worker and Civil War volunteer, founded the American Association of the Red Cross and served as its first President.
Fires in Michigan
killed 125 people and left thousands homeless. In its first relief effort, the American Red Cross supplied building materials for new homes.
The United States of America joined the International Red Cross Movement. Over a century later, the worldwide movement became the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The American Red Cross aided the 25,000 homeless survivors of the catastrophic Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood that claimed 2,200 victims.
In its first overseas effort, the American Red Cross and Iowa farmers sent tons of wheat and 250 boxcars of corn to help feed Russian famine victims.
Clara Barton led relief workers in the Sea Islands, South Carolina, where a hurricane had left 30,000 African Americans homeless.
In its first mission to the battlefield, the American Red Cross provided supplies for the sick and wounded of the Spanish-American War, ministering to American and Cuban soldiers and their families.
A hurricane and storm surge devastated Galveston, Texas, killing 6,000. The American Red Cross spent $120,000 on relief, including 1,500,00 strawberry plants, to help regional farmers recover.
The United States Congress granted a charter to the American
Red Cross giving the organization the mechanism for providing relief to disaster victims, aid and communication services to U.S. armed forces and their families.
The San Francisco earthquake killed 500 and then left 250,000 people needing shelter, food and clothing. President Theodore Roosevelt designated the American Red Cross as the official agency to coordinate relief activities.
A coal mine collapsed in Cherry, Illinois, causing nearly 260 deaths. The American Red Cross responded and established a pension fund for widows and orphans, influencing the passage of the first worker compensation laws.
The American Red Cross used Pullman railroad cars refitted as education centers to teach first aid techniques to railroad workers across the country.
The Triangle Shirtwaist fire in new York City killed 146 young immigrant workers trapped inside by locked doors. The American Red Cross funded grants to their families here and overseas.
American Red Cross Rural Nursing Services provided bedside care, aided in the detection and management of infectious diseases, administered immunization programs and taught sanitation.
President Woodrow Wilson accepted the invitation to become Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross.
All U.S. Presidents since have honored this tradition.
The American Red Cross established the Life Saving Corps to teach water safety and "water-proof" America.
As World War I began, the American Red Cross responded with impartial humanitarian aid by sending medical teams and supplies to both sides in Europe. Volunteers knitted over 11,000,000 articles of clothing for American troops. More than 23,000 nurses served at home and abroad.
Junior Red Crossers produced hospital supplies, worked in victory gardens and prepared Friendship Boxes filled with supplies for youth in war-torn areas.
The Mississippi River flooded 5,000,000 acres of farmland. The American Red Cross built 154 refugee camps to house the 325,000 homeless and provided seeds and livestock to help communities get back on their feet.
During the years of the Great Depression, the American Red Cross assisted millions with food, clothing, shelter and medical aid.
Dr. Charles drew became the medical director of the first American Red Cross Blood Bank in the United States. His work with plasma saved the lives of thousands of servicemen during World War II.
World War II, the American Red Cross collected nearly 13,500,000 pints of blood for the armed forces. Through clubs and clubmobiles, Red Cross provided recreation lodging, food and 1,600,000,000 doughnuts to servicemen.
The American Red Cross provided news of the health and welfare of prisoners and internees. By 1944, ships under the Red Cross flag of neutrality had carried 26,000,000 packages abroad for prisoners of war.
The American Red Cross opened a blood center in Rochester, New York establishing a blood program for the nation's hospitals.
The Korean War hostilities ended with Operation Big Switch. The American Red Cross and other Red Cross national societies greeted thousands of prisoners of war exchanged the 38th parallel.
The American Red Cross expanded its scientific research efforts to gain a better understanding of blood components and their capacities to cure.
The American Red Cross began its Disaster Mental Health assistance program in hard-hit Xenia, Ohio, after 148 tornadoes ravaged the country, leaving 315 people dead and thousands homeless in 11 states.
The American Red Cross introduced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to help save lives.
Operation New Life helped
resettle 100,000 Southeast Asian refugees throughout the United States. Employees and volunteers sought to reunite separated families as well as help acclimate them to their new culture.
The American Red Cross launched the African Famine Relief Campaign fund, a major effort to help millions of starving people in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
HIV prevention efforts were launched by the American Red Cross Board of Governors. By the end of the 20th century, more than 30,000 people had been trained as instructors and millions of people had been reached through the Red Cross HIV/AIDS prevention education.
The Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences was dedicated. Its Research and Development Program has a proud history of contributions to biomedical science, blood safety, plasma-derived therapeutics and transfusion technology.
The American Red Cross helped establish the International Post-Traumatic Rehabilitation Center following a major earthquake in Armenia that left 500,000 people homeless.
Hurricane Hugo, followed closely by the Loma Prieta earthquake, depleted the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. A generous public replenished the disaster relief budget, allowing the Red Cross to spend more than $224,000,000 on these and other disasters that year.
The American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing and Information Center opened in Baltimore. In its first 10 years, it reunited more than 900 families and responded to tens of thousands of inquiries.
Hurricane Andrew devastated parts of Florida and Louisiana. More than 14,000 disaster workers responded to the largest relief effort to date.
In three years, the American Red Cross and its international affiliates assisted 900,000 people in the war-torn Balkans with food, water, communication, medical care and family reunification.
More than 8,000 American Red Cross workers responded to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Hurriane Mitch, the most destructive storm in 200 years, left 1,500,000 people homeless in Central America. The American Red Cross provided funding for long-term infrastructure projects within the region.
Automated external defibrillator (AED) training was included in CPR classes in a continuing effort to provide the highest quality first aid education.
Nearly 55,000 volunteers responded to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.
All programs of the American Red Cross are made possible by the voluntary services and financial support of the American people.
American Red Cross joins global partners to launch the Measles Initiative—a plan to reduce mortality by immunizing children in at-risk countries. Before the measles vaccine became available, virtually all kids contracted measles; an estimated 135,000,000 cases and about 6,000,000 deaths occurred globally each year.
Hurricane Charley slams into Florida's Gulf Coast. It is followed by a succession of hurricanes—Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, to which the combined responses is the largest in American Red Cross history up to that point.
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia triggers a tsunami that brings death and destruction to 12 countries. The enormity of the disaster touches the hearts of people across the United States—many of whom are spending the holidays with family when news of the tsunami reaches their homes. American Red Cross plays a major role in the massive international relief effort.
Hurricane Katrina becomes one of the most destructive storms in the history of the Gulf Coast. Red Cross mobilizes its largest, single disaster relief efforts to date. Two subsequent hurricanes of significant strength, Rita and Wilma, hit the same year, compounding the devastation and requiring additional relief.
A magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes Haiti, leaving approximately 1,500,000 people homeless and prompting the largest single-country response in the history of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The public donates generously in support of relief efforts, including donations through text messages on mobile phones—leading to a groundbreaking $32,000,000 raised via SMS.
Superstorm Sandy makes landfall in New Jersey. 17,000 Red Cross workers participate in the massive emergency response across multiple states.
Reaches milestone of 10,000,000 Red Cross mobile app downloads on April 12. People use the apps to save lives by helping those who need First Aid and CPR.
Nearly 3,000,000,000 alerts issued to notify users of severe weather and disasters.
In less than a month, the Red Cross responded to three historic, back to back hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria. The organization served more than 19,000,000 meals and snacks to help people in need.