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Red Cross (British & American)

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The British Red Cross Society is the United Kingdom body of the worldwide neutral and impartial humanitarian network the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The society was formed in 1870, and is a registered charity with more than 17,200 volunteers and 3,400 staff. At the heart of their work is providing help to people in crisis, both in the UK and overseas. The Red Cross is committed to helping people without discrimination, regardless of their ethnic origin, nationality, political beliefs or religion. Queen Elizabeth II is the patron of the society.

The British Red Cross was formed in 1870, just seven years after the formation of the international movement in Switzerland. This followed the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), and a move across Europe to form similar societies. The society was founded as the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War at a public meeting chaired by Robert Loyd-Lindsay in London on 4 August 1870. It assisted in providing aid to both warring armies in the Franco-Prussian War and subsequent 19th-century conflicts, under the protection of the Red Cross Emblem. The society was one of several British volunteer medical organisations to serve in the war.

In 1905, 35 years after its formation, the society was reconstituted as the British Red Cross Society, and was granted its first Royal Charter in 1908 by King Edward VII. His consort, Queen Alexandra, became its president.


The American Red Cross (ARC), also known as The American National Red Cross, is a non-profit humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education in the United States. It is the designated US affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United States movement to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The organization offers services and development programs.

Clara Barton founded the American chapter after learning of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1869, she went to Europe and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War. She was determined to bring the organization to America.

Barton became President of the American branch of the society, known as the American National Red Cross in May 1881 in Washington. The first chapters opened in upstate New York, where she had connections. John D. Rockefeller and four others donated money to help create a national headquarters near the White House. The abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a friend of Barton's, offered advice and support as she sought to establish the American chapter of Red Cross. As Register of Deeds for the District of Columbia, Douglass also signed the American Red Cross's original Articles of Incorporation.

Barton led one of the group's first major relief efforts, a response to the 1881 Thumb Fire in Michigan's Thumb region. Over 5,000 people were left homeless. The next major disaster was the Johnstown Flood on May 31, 1889. Over 2,209 people died and thousands more were injured in or near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in one of the worst disasters in U.S. history.

Barton was unable to build up a staff she trusted and her fundraising was lackluster. She was forced out in 1904. Professional social work experts took control and made the group a model of Progressive Era scientific reform. New leader Mabel Thorp Boardman consulted with senior government officials, military officers, social workers, and financiers. William Howard Taft was especially influential. They imposed an ethos of "managerialism", transforming the agency from Barton's cult of personality to an "organizational humanitarianism" ready for expansion.

Among the notable disasters of the Progressive Era that featured American Red Cross involvement was the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. The New York City chapter joined with the Charity Organization Society to provide funds to survivors and the dependents of those who perished.

Please see Wikipedia for more information.