Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Clara Barton, Angel of the Battlefield at Home
Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
“I have paid
the rent of a room
retaining it merely as a shelter
to which I might return,
when my strength
should fail me
under exposure and labor
at the field.”
Clara Barton, December 1863
In November 1997, Richard Lyons peered into the dark clutter in the attic of 437 Seventh Street, inspecting the building in preparation for its planned demolition. His eyes settled on a sign, “Missing Soldiers Office, Clara Barton, 3rd Story, Room 9.” He had stumbled upon, and saved, the home and office of the Civil War nurse and Red Cross founder, known as the Angel of the Battlefield. It was a time capsule. Room 9 was still stenciled on the door; 19th-century wallpaper hung from the walls in shreds.
It was from the spot where you now stand that Barton began her work on the Civil War battlefield in 1862, leaving for the front lines at Antietam atop a supply wagon loaded with donated food and medical supplies. She worked as a copyist in the Patent Office at Ninth and F Streets from 1861 to 1865. As a woman, she
After the war, at her own initiative and expense, Barton made her Seventh Street home a headquarters for the search for missing soldiers. She was eventually paid a flat fee of $15,000 by the government for her efforts. Thus she was the first woman to run a federal office. She received more than 63,000 letters of inquiry and wrote 41,855 replies, in the end identifying about 22,000 of 62,000 missing soldiers.
Plans are being made to open this building and Clara Barton’s rooms to the public.
Above: Clara Barton as she looked during the Civil War [and image of sign discovered by Richard Lyons in 1997]. (Library of Congress).
“Through the weary years of the war Clara Barton stayed at her post.” ([Drawing by] W.M. Allison. Library of Congress.)
Below: Seventh and O Streets in 1863 when Clara Barton’s office was just a few steps up the street off the left side of the picture. (Library of Congress.)
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number .3.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Science & Medicine • War, US Civil • Women. In addition, it is included in the Clara Barton, and the Downtown Heritage Trail series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is November 1997.
Location. 38° 53.752′ N, 77° 1.309′ W. Marker is in Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is on 7th Street Northwest south of E Street Northwest, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 437 7th Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Missing Soldiers (here, next to this marker); "Blodget's Hotel" (within shouting distance of this marker); Samuel F. B. Morse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Roots of Freedom and Equality (about 500 feet away); Mary Church Terrell (about 500 feet away); General Post Office (about 500 feet away); Discover DC / Gallery Place / Arena (about 600 feet away); Chief Petty Officers' (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 24, 2020. It was originally submitted on February 17, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,941 times since then and 18 times this year. Last updated on September 25, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on February 17, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.