Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Visit to Clara Barton’s House

     A few days ago I was able to visit the Clara Barton National Historic Site in Glen Echo, Maryland.  I was pleased to be able to tour the site, but I also enjoyed getting a closer look at some of the artifacts.  I was there with some coworkers to look at artifacts which we may be able to borrow, and some which we will try to reproduce.  We will be adding a Clara Barton display to our main museum, and of course we are working on opening Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office.  While we do have artifacts which were found in her Missing Soldiers Office that we can display, these additional artifacts should allow us to tell a more complete story of her life and work.

This is the house that was Clara Barton’s residence for the last 15 years of her life. It also served as the first permanent headquarters of the American Red Cross.
I liked this image of Clara Barton that was taken later in her life. You can see another image of her in the background, from her younger days.

Those are stained glass windows in the doors. There’s no doubt that Clara was (rightfully) proud of her work!
Here’s an artifact that ties in to the Missing Soldier’s Office. I did make sure to get permission before I photographed any artifacts!

More Red Cross stained glass! This set looks out from the top floor of the house.

     We were able to examine several items which were out on display, and then we were taken upstairs to look at some artifacts in storage.  When the curator pulled out a book listing the Union soldiers buried at Andersonville Prison, I had to take a closer look.  This time it was personal.  My great-great-great grandfather died there.  So, I took the opportunity to look up his name.

Here it is, C.B. Seeley of the 15thNY Cavalry, died Oct. 24, 1864 of scorbutus. Scorbutus is another term for scurvy, a condition caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. It is a cause of death listed for many Andersonville inmates, which is not surprising considering that they suffered a deficiency of food overall.

     We also saw a period dress bodice, nicknamed “The Traveling Bodice” since it is designated for going out on loan to other institutions.  Notice in the photo that the bodice is padded with acid-free tissue, to prevent creases from forming in the fabric, and that there are rolled pieces of tissue along the exterior to keep it from shifting in the box.  These rolled segments of tissue paper are sometimes referred to as “sausages”. 

The bodice is packed well for storage and for transport, with a sturdy box, a foam form, cloth straps, and lots of tissue paper!

It’s always good to have handling and packing instructions for loaned items. 

     It was a fascinating visit!  The next step now is to consult with my coworkers to determine which items we want to request to borrow.  We certainly saw many of them that we’d like!

Photos courtesy of the Clara Barton National Historic Site.

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