Red Crescent/Red Cross

Red Crescent/Red Cross
Grace Coolidge: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Middle School
Time Required:


Calvin Coolidge’s controlling nature limited the activities of First Lady Grace Coolidge.  He allowed her no say in the household management of the White House, nor was she permitted to determine what guests would visit.  Calvin Coolidge simply wanted his wife to look pretty at all times.  Though greatly controlled and restricted, in World War I, Grace Coolidge became involved in the Red Cross.  She continued her involvement throughout her life.


This lesson addresses the topic of current events by examining the works of the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet and/or access to a local branch of the Red Cross.


 Provide students with a brief history of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies making sure to highlight the following points:
  1. The organization was inspired by Henry Dunant, a traveling Swiss business man who, while traveling through Italy, came upon a battlefield during the Austria and Franco-Sardinian war.  Upon making his discovery of approximately 40,000 men laying dead or dying he organized the local community to provide needed medical attention.
  2. In 1863, the Red Cross symbol, namely the white armlet bearing a red cross was introduced (the Red Cross flag is an inverted flag of Switzerland).
  3. The Red Cross was instrumental in the establishment of the Geneva Convention and two specific requirements refer to the organization: 1) The national society must be recognized by its own national government as a relief society and 2) the national government of the respective country must be a state party to the Geneva Convention.
  4. The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Dunant in 1901.
  5. In 1869, Clara Barton, upon the direction of her doctor, went to Europe for a vacation to recuperate from her humanitarian efforts during the Civil War.  While in Europe she volunteered for the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War. 
  6. Upon her arrival back in the United States she set about establishing the American Red Cross.  She encountered resistance, primarily because few Americans thought that the United States would ever encounter a war again like the Civil War.
  7. Barton eventually succeed in her efforts with the help of President Chester Arthur.
  8. Barton led the first American Red Cross relief effort of the Great Fire of 1881 in Michigan.
  9. She continued to lead relief efforts until the age of 85.
  10. In 1991 the organization changed its name to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.     
  11. In 1965 the organization adopted its Seven Fundamental Principles:
            Voluntary Service 
Some where in the world right now, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is helping people. 
Using the American Red Cross website and/or the local Red Cross office, have students determine who, where, and how the Red Cross is helping people around the world at this time. 
Once students have determined the “who, where, and how” have them further research the reason why the Red Cross is needed in each situation.  
Once students have completed their research, have them create a Red Cross magazine to report their findings.   

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson, have students explore and discuss the seven principles of the Red Cross.  Specifically, in which of the situations that students explored would the Red Cross not be needed if their principles were followed by others?  For example, if this research would have been done in September 2001, students would research jihad and compare that belief to the principles of the Red Cross.

Sources & Resources:

Teacher’s Guide to the Red Cross
History of the American Red Cross
History of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

   Benthall, Jonathan and Bellion-Jourdan.  The Charitable Crescent:  Politics of Aid in the Muslim World.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. 
   Favez, Jean-Claude, Fletcher, John, (translator) and Fletcher, Beryl (translator).  The Red Cross and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.  
   Forsythe, David.  The Humanitarians: The International Committee of the Red Cross.  Cambridge:  Cambridge: University Press, 2005. 
   Hutchinson, John F.  Champions of Charity: War and the Rise of the Red Cross.  Boulder: Westview Press, 1996. 
   Moorehead, Caroline.  Dunant’s Dream:  War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross. Emeryville:Carroll & Graf Pub, 1999. 
   Turk, Michele.  Blood, Sweat and Tears: A Oral History of the American Red Cross.  Westport: E. Street Press, 2006. 

Credits: This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University