Founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, the American Red Cross emerged as the nation’s leading humanitarian organization, offering aid to the U.S. military and their families during the Spanish-American War and later expanding to include domestic peacetime relief work. By 1900, the organization received its first congressional charter, granting full legal standing, and introduced various programs regarding national and international disaster relief, first aid, water safety, and public health nursing programs. The Red Cross today continues to offer support to vulnerable communities impacted by the current global health crisis, such as providing health and mental health services, food distribution, blood drives, and COVID-19 safety training.
The establishment of Red Cross chapters on Delmarva began in the late 1910s and contributed mainly to local humanitarian efforts during wartime and after natural disasters. By the 1920s-30s, Red Cross volunteers on Delmarva provided many community services such as home care, ambulance, and school nursing services and donated a significant amount of supplies to American troops during World War II. The Red Cross on Delmarva today spans over three states— the state of Delaware, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties in Maryland, and Accomack & Northampton counties in Virginia—and continues to provide lifesaving services to more than 1.4 million people on the Peninsula.
This resource guide provides a starting point for researchers interested in the history of the American Red Cross on the Delmarva Peninsula and features various sources from the American Red Cross, Lower Shore Chapter records housed at the Nabb Research Center. Archivists at the Nabb Center have digitized artifacts, manuscripts, photographs, pamphlets, and other sources related to the American Red Cross on Delmarva, which are organized in this guide by topic: World Wars I & II, Nursing, Volunteers, and Junior Red Cross, and Chapter Activities.
Listed below are several collections from the Nabb Research Center that include primary documents related to the American Red Cross. Click on a collection title to be taken to the Nabb Center’s Finding Aid Portal to learn more information about the collection and its contents!