American Red Cross actually has international roots,
dating back to 19th century war-torn Europe. It was in
1859 on a battlefield in Italy where Swiss businessman
Henri Dunant witnessed a disturbing lack of help for the
wounded. Dunant's vision and resulting book inspired the birth in
1863 of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
half world away, the Civil War was raging in the United
States. Former schoolteacher Clara Barton volunteered to
help care for wounded men on the battlefields. Following
the war, while traveling in Europe, Barton was introduced
to the Red Cross movement. Returning home, she helped
persuade the U.S. government to sign the Geneva
Convention, international treaties designed to protect war
victims. On May 21, 1881, Barton founded the American Red
formal chapters weren't to appear in the Midwest until
well after the turn of the century, the Red Cross had a
presence in the Quad Cities as early as the late 1800's
and 1900's. B.F. Tillinghast, managing editor of the
Davenport Democrat, and the American Red Cross Secretary
of Iowa, directed disaster relief efforts from the
Quad Citians responded with
assistance for such disasters as the Johnstown Flood of
1889, the Russian and Chinese famines, two major
Midwestern floods and the Polish War Relief in 1916.
Tillinghast's distinguished service was rewarded when he
was appointed an American delegate to the 1902
International Red Cross conference in St. Petersburg,
Russia. There he met Clara Barton, and accompanied her on
her return trip to the U.S. By 1917, three local Red
Cross chapters had been established: in Moline, Rock
Island, and Davenport. In 1964, the Moline and Rock Island
chapters merged to become the Black Hawk chapter. In 1971,
the Black Hawk and Scott County chapters were merged to
form the Illowa chapter, changing to the Quad Cities
chapter in 1980. In 1997 services were extended to Mercer
and Henry counties. To reflect this expansion of services,
the name was changed to American Red Cross of the Quad
Cities Area in 1998.
continues today to serve the visions of Henri Dunant,
Clara Barton, and B.F. Tillinghast.
Congressional Charter Mandates Emergency Services
In 1900, the Unites States Congress granted the
American Red Cross a charter, making the volunteer
organization responsible for providing services to the
U.S. Armed Forces and relief to disaster victims at
home and abroad.
Congress approved a revised charter to enhance
effectiveness as a national society responsible for
disaster relief and service to members of the military and
their families. All American Red Cross chapters are
charged to fulfill these services.
Many volunteers made items and worked to help the Red Cross.
These individuals often formed groups and met in a variety of
places. One very active branch was the Junior Red Cross.
Every student in Moline was a member of the Junior Red Cross.
they helped in a variety of ways. They raised money through
dues, selling war stamps, and high school students put on
plays. Students also helped by making bandages and putting
together comfort kits.