A WWII-era poster encouraged American women to volunteer for the Red Cross as part of the war effort.
The American Red Cross (chartered as the American National Red Cross) is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States, as part of the International Federation of the Red Cross.
The American Red Cross was established on May 21, 1881 by Clara Barton (1821-1912). Jane Delano (1862-1919) was the founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service.
Clara Barton had already had a career as a teacher and federal bureaucrat when the American Civil War broke out. After working tirelessly on humanitarian work during and after the conflict, on advice of her doctors, in 1869, she went to Europe for a restful vacation. There, she saw and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and determined to bring the organization home with her to America.
When Clara Barton began the organizing work in the U.S. in 1873, no one thought the country would ever again faced an experience like the Civil War. However, Barton was not one to lose hope in the face of the bureaucracy, and she finally succeeded during the administration of President Chester A. Arthur on the basis that the new American Red Cross organization could also be available to respond to other types of crisis.
As Barton expanded the original concept of the Red Cross to include assisting in any great national disaster, this service brought the United States the "Good Samaritan of Nations" label in the International Red Cross. Barton naturally became President of the American branch of the society, which was founded in 1882. John D. Rockefeller gave money to create a national headquarters in Washington, DC, located one block from the White House.
Clara Barton led one of the group's first major relief efforts, a response to the Johnstown Flood which occurred on May 31, 1889. Over 2,209 people died and thousands more were injured in or near Johnstown, Pennsylvania in one of the worst disasters in United States history. She resigned from the American Red Cross in 1904.
Red Cross Blood Services
The blood collection and distribution of American Red Cross is regulated under Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 as a drug and computer systems associated with the collecting, testing, and distribution of blood products is regulated as a medical device.
The American Red Cross supplies roughly 50% of the donated blood in the United States.
Clara Barton National Historic Site
In 1975, Clara Barton National Historic Site was established as a unit of the National Park Service at her Glen Echo, Maryland home near Washington, DC. The first National Historic Site dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman, it preserves the early history of the American Red Cross and the last home of its founder. Clara Barton spent the last 15 years of her life in her Glen Echo home, and it served as an early headquarters of the American Red Cross as well.
The National Park Service has restored eleven rooms, including the Red Cross offices, parlors and Miss Barton's bedroom. Visitors to Clara Barton National Historic Site can gain a sense of how Miss Barton lived and worked surrounded by all that went into her life's work. Visitors to the site are led through the three levels on a guided tour emphasizing Miss Barton's use of her unusual home, and come to appreciate the site in the same way visitors did in Clara Barton's lifetime. 
- Foster Rhea Dulles American Red Cross (Harper & Brothers, 1950)