Bordentown in Burlington County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Women's Heritage Trail
Clara Barton, best known as a Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, was significant in New Jersey history for beginning the first "free" public school in the state. Barton took a teaching position in Hightstown in 1851, at the urging of her friend and Hightstown resident, Mary Norton. While visiting nearby Bordentown, Barton was disturbed by the number of children she found in the streets because their families could not afford private school. Barton met with the local school committee and convinced them to let her try an experiment of educating the children with just six male students who were not attending private school in a free school in this charming red brick building on Crosswicks Street. It was so successful that by the end of the year attendance grew to 600 pupils. The town officials built a new public school, but replaced Barton as principal with a man. Feeling hurt and resentful, Barton left New Jersey for Washington, D.C.. where she founded the American Red Cross in 1881.
"Barton returned the Bordentown with an 'idea'. Why not fund a free school? It was a daring thought, daring enough to fire
Excerpt from the historical biography Clara Barton: In the Service of Humanity, by David Henry Burton, 1995
The Clara Barton School is on the New Jersey Women's Heritage Trail because of the spirit, dedication, and hard work of Clara Barton as the founder of the first Public School in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Women's Heritage Trail highlights a collection of historic sites located around the state that represent the significant contributions women made to the history of our state. The Heritage Trail brings to life the vital role of women in New Jersey's past and present.
Erected 2010 by Department of Community Affairs/New Jersey Historic Trust and Department of Environmental Protection/Historic Preservation Office.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Education • Women. In addition, it is included in the Clara Barton, and the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1851.
Location. 40° 8.76′ N, 74° 42.321′ W. Marker is in Bordentown, New Jersey, in Burlington County. Marker is at the intersection of Crosswicks Street and East Burlington Street, on the left when traveling west on Crosswicks Street. Touch for mapTouch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Clara Barton School (here, next to this marker); Borden's Towne (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Richard Watson Gilder House (about 700 feet away); Dedicated to School No. 2 (about 800 feet away); Tower Clock (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Telephone made its Bordentown Debut in 1882 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Bordentown Female College (approx. 0.3 miles away); Bordentown (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bordentown.
Also see . . . New Jersey Women's History. (Submitted on October 3, 2010, by Deb Hartshorn of Burlington County, New Jersey.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 3, 2010, by Deb Hartshorn of Burlington County, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,220 times since then and 68 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 3, 2010, by Deb Hartshorn of Burlington County, New Jersey. 3. submitted on May 24, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.