Red Cross Month: The History of the Red Cross

March is American Red Cross Month, and C & A Scientific is excited to share information with you about the history of the Red Cross. Our passion for supporting medical distributors extends to philanthropic medical organizations as well. Here are some interesting facts you may not have known about the history of the Red Cross.

Founding of the International Red Cross

The international Red Cross was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, by Henri Dunant. Dunant founded the Red Cross as a response to the brutal Battle of Solferino, which happened in 1859, as part of the second Italian War of Independence. During this battle, over 40,000 people died or were wounded. In 1862, Dunant published his book A Memory of Solferino. He proposed that voluntary relief societies be established in all countries of the world as a source of protection during both war and peacetime. He later became a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross. This committee began the work necessary to establish relief branches in all countries and instructed armies to identify relief services with the flag of the Red Cross, which is an inverse of the Swiss national flag. 

In parallel with the International Red Cross, the Ottoman Empire created their own Red Crescent society to offer relief for countries under the oversight of the Ottoman Empire. At the time, the Red Crescent society primarily operated in Turkey, and it would later work in Egypt. The Red Crescent society also began aid projects in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Jordan during the Second World War. 

After the First World War, the International Red Cross established a Central Prisoners of War Agency in Geneva to help captured soldiers find their families. In 1918, the Red Cross began to issue mandates for national armies to stop using mustard gas. The same year, Red Cross representatives also began to visit political prisoners to contact their families and the outside world on their behalf.

The American Red Cross

The American branch of the Red Cross was established in 1881 by Clara Barton. After founding the American chapter, she served as the head of the agency until 1904. During the period she ran the establishment, the Red Cross provided relief for the tidal wave in Galveston, Texas in 1900, and the flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1889. The group also assisted American forces during the Spanish-American War in 1898. 

During the early 1900s, the United States branch of the Red Cross began to extend its efforts for first aid training and water safety. During the First World War, the organization grew from 100 local chapters to 3,800. The Red Cross also recruited over 20,000 nurses for military service during this period, and many continued to work with the Red Cross after the war was over. This training and recruitment tripled during the Second World War. Additionally, in 1941, the Red Cross began to create a national blood donation program to collect blood for the United States Armed Forces. 

Red Cross Today

The Red Cross continues its work for disaster relief and wartime efforts in the United States today and worldwide. C & A is proud to support the Red Cross mission to alleviate human suffering wherever disaster or emergencies occur. We are excited to help healthcare distributors get the supplies they need to continue their dedicated work. If you would like to learn more about how we support medical distributors, check out our medical catalog here. 

C & A Scientific is a dedicated leader in improving the health and minds of people worldwide. We supply over 700 award-winning medical and STEM-inspired products to distributors and retailers looking for sensational customer service. Learn more about us and our story here.

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