American Red Cross Connecticut Region
Serving Connecticut since 1898.
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About the Red Cross
The Red Cross idea was born in 1859, when Henry Dunant, a young Swiss man, came upon the scene of a bloody battle in Solferino, Italy, between the armies of imperial Austria and the Franco-Sardinian alliance. Some 40,000 men lay dead or dying on the battlefield and the wounded were lacking medical attention. Dunant organized local people to bind the soldiers' wounds and to feed and comfort them. On his return, he called for the creation of national relief societies to assist those wounded in war, and pointed the way to the future Geneva Conventions.

In October 1863, The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was created in Geneva, Switzerland, to provide nonpartisan care to the wounded and sick in times of war. The Red Cross emblem was adopted at this first International Conference as a symbol of neutrality and was to be used by national relief societies. In August 1864, the representatives of 12 governments signed the Geneva Convention Treaty. The extraordinary efforts of Henry Dunant led to the eventual establishment of the International Red Cross. Today, the Red Cross Movement incorporates the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the International Federation), as well as National Societies in 175 countries, including the American Red Cross of the United States.

Clara Barton (1821-1912) dominates the early history of the American Red Cross, which was modeled after the International Red Cross. She did not originate the Red Cross idea, but she was the first person to establish a lasting Red Cross Society in America. She successfully organized the American Association of the Red Cross in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 1881. Created to serve America in peace and in war, during times of disaster and national calamity, Barton's organization took its service beyond that of the International Red Cross Movement by adding disaster relief to battlefield assistance. She served as the organization's volunteer president until 1904.

About the Red Cross in Connecticut
The first office of the Red Cross in Connecticut was established in 1898. In its early years, the Chapter funded local, national and international disaster relief and produced items for the military. During its more than 100 year history, the Chapter provided comfort services to local families affected by fires or weather disasters. It has also been a key responder to major disasters including the Influenza outbreak of 1918, the Flood of 1936, the Hurricane of 1938, the 1944 Circus Fire, the Flood of 1955, the Blizzard of 1978 and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York.

Production for the armed forces, including clothing, comfort items and bandages, rose dramatically during World War I. The Home Service program was established in World War I to help the families of servicemen communicate with their loved ones overseas and to provide other services. 

The Chapter entered into preparedness training in the 1920s, when it added first aid, water safety and Junior Red Cross programs. Over the decades, our roster of classes expanded as technology developed to include CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training. We also have developed materials to help individuals prepare for natural or other disasters and make these materials available on the Chapter’s website.
With the start of World War II, services to the armed forces again increased. Volunteers produced needed materials, visited wounded soldiers and supported home front relief work. The Chapter also assisted the National Office of the American Red Cross in efforts to relieve the suffering of displaced persons in the aftermath of the War.

Also during World War II, the Red Cross began to supply the armed services with blood plasma. In 1950, with blood transfusions becoming a more frequent medical practice, the Connecticut Red Cross Blood Program was established to serve the needs of the state’s civilian population.

Today, the American Red Cross helps Connecticut residents prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies with services provided by small paid staff and a corps of more than 10,000 volunteers.