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In May 1881 Clara Barton — the legendary Civil War nurse known as “the Angel of the Battlefield” — and a philanthropist and humanitarian named Adolphus Solomons founded the American Red Cross. The International Committee of the Red Cross had been formed 18 years earlier, in Switzerland, and both Barton and Solomons had been so impressed by what they’d witnessed of its work in various theaters of war and other crises that they were determined that the United States would and should have its own, viable chapter.
In a July 1940 installment of its regular “LIFE Goes to a . . .” feature (“LIFE Goes to a Mardi Gras Ball,” “LIFE Goes to a Hitler Hex Party,” and so on), LIFE magazine paid homage to the venerable charity with an article titled “LIFE Goes to a Red Cross Meeting.”