Restoring Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office

One of the many stories that I did not find time to post during my run on the Morris Island Campaign was about Clara Barton’s work in the summer of 1863.  She arrived on Morris Island shortly after the Federal landings in July.  She worked tirelessly to ease the suffering and improve conditions in camp, By the fall of Battery Wagner she was terribly ill and eventually evacuated to Hilton Head.

In the closing months of the war, Barton established Bureau of Records of Missing Men of the Armies of the United States to aid relatives searching for missing soldiers.  She setup office on the third floor of a building along 7th Street in Washington, DC.  That building is still there today:

Washington DC 090

The building houses a museum, supported in part by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.  The building is not open for public tours at present.  But you can see it in this CSpan video:

You can see more of the interior at the Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office Facebook page.  The building is currently undergoing renovations. A significant part of that will restore the first floor with 19th century flooring and lighting.  The museum is asking for donations to support this renovation.  Yes, that’s a significant goal to meet and they are just getting started.  But consider this… the location of this office is on 7th Street, just a five minute walk from Ford’s Theater.  An interpretive trail already exists to guide visitors through the Washington streets highlighting these and other Civil War related locations.  The restoration of Clara Barton’s office would offer another physical, tangible link to the Civil War.

A worthy sesquicentennial preservation opportunity.


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