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Handwritten railroad pass for Clara Barton and attendant signed by members of Congress, July 19, 1866

Members of Congress who supported Clara Barton’s mission included Senators Henry Wilson and Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, and others who signed this pass giving Barton free passage on trains. Though based in Washington, D.C., Barton frequently traveled to publicize her work, raise funds, or visit sites where Union soldiers died.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Handwritten railroad pass for Clara Barton and attendant signed by members of Congress, July 19, 1866

Searching for the Missing

While providing medical assistance on Civil War battlefields, Clara Barton received many poignant pleas for information about missing soldiers. She requested permission of the government to conduct a search, and after President Abraham Lincoln appointed her to lead it, Barton sought congressional support for her mission. Senator Henry Wilson from Barton’s home state of Massachusetts was a major supporter of her effort. Between 1865 and 1868, through voluminous correspondence and published lists, Barton located 22,000 of approximately 62,000 dead or missing Union soldiers.