SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (The Daily Dish— The American Red Cross Utah is honoring Women’s History Month by recognizing the significant contributions of women to the organization’s lifesaving mission.

Clara Barton, known as the Angel of the Battlefield, is one of the most honored women in American history. Barton provided nursing care and supplies to soldiers during the American Civil War, activities that ultimately defined her life and earned her the nickname. With permission from President Lincoln, she opened the Office of Missing Soldiers, helping to reconnect more than 20,000 soldiers with their families.

On May 21, 1881, Clara founded the American Red Cross, and by 1882, the U.S. ratified the Geneva Conventions—laws that, to this day, protect the war-wounded and civilians in conflict zones. This later resulted in a U.S. congressional charter, officially recognizing Red Cross services. Clara Barton served as Red Cross president for 23 years, retiring in 1904.

Mabel Boardman dedicated over 45 years of her life to the Red Cross and was instrumental in revamping the organization. Under her leadership, the newly restructured Red Cross provided a range of services through a network of nationally chartered chapters that were operated by volunteers and supported by staff. Mabel initiated several programs, including nursing, first aid, and water safety, during her time.

In 1912, Jane Delano resigned from the Army Nurse Corps to become the volunteer chair of the Red Cross Nursing Service. Until her death in 1919, Delano worked tirelessly to establish a nationwide system of qualified nurses for the Red Cross, providing public health education on home health care, hygiene, and first aid. Jane also collaborated with the Army and Navy medical departments to train nurses and medical personnel for wartime service.

Gwen T. Jackson became the first African American to be appointed National Chairman of Volunteers in 1988. She began her Red Cross service in the Service to Military Families Department of the Greater Milwaukee chapter. Gwen served as Chairman of the Board and on the Executive Committee of that chapter before being elected to two terms on the National Board of Governors.

Mary Louise (Weller) Chapman served in Clubmobile Service in England, France, and Germany before dedicating her career to leading youth services and volunteer leadership development for a Red Cross chapter in San Francisco, CA, for 75 years. In recognition of her contributions, the Mary Lou Chapman Innovation Award for Service to the Armed Forces and International Services was established in her honor.

Lois Laster, a trailblazing African American woman, directed recreation clubs for African American service members in England and Austria during World War II. She later established the first integrated club in Korea. In addition to volunteering weekly with the Service to Armed Forces Department at National Headquarters, Lois served as President of the American Red Cross Overseas Association for three years and actively participated in the League of Women Voters.

The contributions of these women and countless others have laid the foundation for the Red Cross to fulfill its mission of service. For more information on joining the American Red Cross as a volunteer, click here.