American National Red Cross Collection: Newly Digitized Photos

The following is a guest post by Jonathan Eaker, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division.

On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton founded the American National Red Cross to provide relief services during times of war and disaster. In honor of its Founder’s Day, I would like to highlight some newly digitized images from our American National Red Cross Collection, which documents Red Cross activities during the late 1910s through the early 1920s in both the U.S. and abroad. The Prints & Photographs Division recently scanned nearly 19,000 American National Red Cross glass negatives, which are now available in our online catalog.

The majority of the collection focuses on the Red Cross’ work during and after the First World War. The American National Red Cross not only cared for injured combatants, but they also helped refugees, took care of orphans, and sent aid to areas hit by famine. There is extensive coverage of their wartime actions in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Balkans, Eastern Russia (including Siberia) and the Middle East. The collection also includes photos of their work at training camps and military hospitals in the U.S.

NO CAPTION. Photo, between 1917 and 1919. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.00858

NO CAPTION. Photo, between 1917 and 1919. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.00858

Music hath charms, etc. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine, Aug. 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.07204

Music hath charms, etc. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine, Aug. 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.07204

Scene in the corridor military hosp. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine, 14 June 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.06729

Scene in the corridor military hosp. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine, 14 June 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.06729

Womens part in the great war. Women are shown preparing to deliver various government packages. They are members of the National League for Women' Service, which is proving of great assistance to Uncle Sam in carrying on the Great War. Women are employed as drivers, ambulance drivers, messengers, etc. Captain A.B. Bayle is shown cranking the car, prior to making her rounds in New York. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, between 1917 and 1920. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.06283

Womens part in the great war. Women are shown preparing to deliver various government packages. They are members of the National League for Women’ Service, which is proving of great assistance to Uncle Sam in carrying on the Great War. Women are employed as drivers, ambulance drivers, messengers, etc. Captain A.B. Bayle is shown cranking the car, prior to making her rounds in New York. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, between 1917 and 1920. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.06283

Some of my favorite of the wartime photos show efforts to document the rehabilitation of injured soldiers. The photo below shows a French soldier who lost his sight and one of his arms. He has been fitted with a custom-made prosthetic which helps him make brushes. The Red Cross not only wanted to care for soldier’s physical wounds, but also provide veterans a way to earn a living after the war.

Making brushes. A blind soldier making and cutting brushes with aid of tool especially designed by M. Lotz Maunory Reeducational School for Blind soldiers. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, 4 March 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.07179

Making brushes. A blind soldier making and cutting brushes with aid of tool especially designed by M. Lotz Maunory Reeducational School for Blind soldiers. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, 4 March 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.07179

The collection also covers various activities of the American National Red Cross unrelated to war, including some of the few photos we have found in the holdings of the Prints and Photographs Division related to the flu epidemic of 1918. The image below shows a trolley conductor in Seattle, Washington stopping someone from boarding because they are not wearing a face mask. The Red Cross distributed 260,000 masks in Seattle to try and help contain the spread of the disease.

Precautions taken in Seattle, Wash., during the Spanish Influenza Epidemic would not permit anyone to ride on the street cars without wearing a mask. 260,000 of these were made by the Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross which consisted of 120 workers, in three days. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, circa 1918 or 1919. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.02654

Precautions taken in Seattle, Wash., during the Spanish Influenza Epidemic would not permit anyone to ride on the street cars without wearing a mask. 260,000 of these were made by the Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross which consisted of 120 workers, in three days. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, circa 1918 or 1919. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.02654

Photographers also documented dignitaries and groups visiting American Red Cross headquarters in Washington D.C., nurses visiting rural families, and Red Cross staff teaching skills like first aid and swimming. There is also coverage of disaster relief, showing the Red Cross’ work in the aftermath of floods, tornadoes, explosions, and the collection even includes a few photos from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The Japanese RC Comm. headed by Prince Tokagawa [i.e. Tokugawa], being received at ARC National Headquarters by Chairman Danison and members of the War Council. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, July 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.02158

The Japanese RC Comm. headed by Prince Tokagawa [i.e. Tokugawa], being received at ARC National Headquarters by Chairman Danison and members of the War Council. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, July 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.02158

Red Cross Bedside Nursing. Bedside nursing is one of the most highly appreciated duties of the Red Cross Public Health Nurse. This bed-ridden invalid has been made comfortable on the porch of her home by the Nurse who regularly visits here. Under the peace program of the Red Cross, to sustain which the third Red Cross Roll Call for members which will be held, Nov. 2 to 11 the Public Health Nursing system will be expanded to be even more effective than at present. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, 7 October 1919. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.04234

Red Cross Bedside Nursing. Bedside nursing is one of the most highly appreciated duties of the Red Cross Public Health Nurse. This bed-ridden invalid has been made comfortable on the porch of her home by the Nurse who regularly visits here. Under the peace program of the Red Cross, to sustain which the third Red Cross Roll Call for members which will be held, Nov. 2 to 11 the Public Health Nursing system will be expanded to be even more effective than at present. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, 7 October 1919. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.04234

Applying First Aid bandage to hand and arm. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, 23 January 1920. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.05375

Applying First Aid bandage to hand and arm. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, 23 January 1920. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.05375

Earthquake, San Francisco. April 18, 1906. Food line at Relief Station run by the American Red Cross. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, 18 April 1906. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.04175

Earthquake, San Francisco. April 18, 1906. Food line at Relief Station run by the American Red Cross. Photo from American National Red Cross Collection, 18 April 1906. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.04175

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