Tag: Red Cross (Page 1 of 2)

CNHH Presents: Essential Reads in the History of Humanitarianism

Top 5 Histories of National Red Cross Societies in the English-Speaking West

~ as recommended by Sarah Glassford, September 2021 ~


The history of international-level Red Cross activity received scholarly attention beginning in the last decades of the 20th century, but national Red Cross societies long remained the preserve of celebratory tributes written by amateurs and enthusiasts. Only in the last decade have scholarly histories of national-level Red Cross societies begun to appear, largely focused on countries in the English-speaking West where the movement first took root. These histories shed light on the history of humanitarianism at every level, from the local to the global, linking grassroots volunteers fundraising at home to those suffering from conflict, disaster, poverty, and ill-health around the world.

For my money, there are the currently five “essential reads” in this growing field. Each one is based on extensive archival research, is written in English about a predominantly English-speaking country, and the resulting book is “not a hagiography but, rather, a fair-minded and scholarly addition.”[i] Collectively they offer opportunities to compare and contrast the implementation of a transnational ideology across a variety of national contexts and time periods. As more studies – ideally about countries not formerly part of the British empire – appear, the opportunities for such cross-cultural and cross-national comparisons will only increase.

Here are my (current) top 5 essential reads, in order of publication:

1. Moser Jones, Marian. The American Red Cross from Clara Barton to the New Deal. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.

Moser Jones, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, channels her interest in the social history and ethics of institutional benevolence into this study of the founding years of the American Red Cross. This study offers an exhaustively detailed examination of the ARC’s wide-ranging humanitarian activities at home and abroad, alongside its tumultuous internal politics.

2. Irwin, Julia F. Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Irwin, a professor at the University of South Florida, brings to this study her expertise in US foreign relations. This work powerfully demonstrates how American Red Cross humanitarian aid overseas became a potent arm of the country’s larger foreign policy during the first half of the 20th century, and an outlet for some Americans’ desire to engage with the world.

3. Oppenheimer, Melanie. The Power of Humanity: 100 Years of Australian Red Cross, 1914-2014. HarperCollins, 2014.

Oppenheimer, a professor at Flinders University, was commissioned to write this anniversary volume by the Australian Red Cross, in which she brings to bear her expertise in the histories of gender, voluntary aid, and imperialism in times of war and peace. Despite the book’s overall celebratory theme, Oppenheimer examines the organization’s failures and limitations alongside its triumphs.

4. Tennant, Margaret, Across the Street, Across the World: A History of the Red Cross in New Zealand, 1915-2015. New Zealand Red Cross, 2015.

Tennant, a professor emerita at Massey University, was commissioned to write this anniversary volume by the New Zealand Red Cross. Her expertise as a historian of voluntary aid, social welfare, and women’s history results in a clear-eyed and fair assessment of the organization’s work at home and abroad.

5. Glassford, Sarah. Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017.

(Am I biased on this one? Of course!) My own book follows the evolution of the Canadian Red Cross as an organization and its humanitarian work at home and overseas over the better part of a century. My interest in the histories of women, children, wartime, volunteering, and health is evident throughout.

Bonus: Two More to Watch!

  • Lahane, Shane. A History of the Irish Red Cross. Four Courts Press, 2019.

I discovered this one while looking up publication information for the books listed above and it sounds like another winner, blending social, cultural, health, and institutional history. Lahane is a graduate of University College Cork and has also published on the Great Famine in Ireland’s County Kerry.

  • Cresswell, Rosemary. The History of the British Red Cross, 1870-2020: Health and Humanitarianism. Bloomsbury, forthcoming in 2023.

Another commissioned anniversary study, this one looks set to follow in the tradition of Oppenheimer and Tennant, placing institutional accomplishments and failures in larger national and international contexts. Cresswell is a research fellow at the University of Warwick who specializes in the history of health and humanitarianism in modern Britain.

_____________________

Dr. Sarah Glassford is the Archivist for the Leddy Library Archives & Special Collections at the University of Windsor. She is also a social historian of modern Canada whose published works include Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross (MQUP, 2017), as well as two essay collections co-edited with Amy Shaw: A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War (UBC Press, 2012), and Making the Best of It: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the Second World War (UBC Press, 2020).


[i] Anne MacLellan, “We Are All Brothers,” Irish Literary Supplement, 40, 1 (Fall 2020): 18.

CfP: The Red Cross Movement, Voluntary Organizations, and Reconstruction in Western Europe in the 20th century

From H-Human Rights

This one-day symposium will be held at the Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po (Paris, France) on Friday 12 June 2020

Historical research on voluntary or non-government organizations and their contribution to the reconstruction of states, communities and humanitarian assistance to civilian populations following conflicts, epidemics and disasters through the twentieth century has generally focused on non-Western European countries. The historiography suggests that it is mostly in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa that natural or man-made disasters have occurred, and that these places have been the focus for humanitarian assistance. The major geographical spheres of interest for Red Cross societies and non-government organizations to provide assistance to populations in times of severe crises do not generally include Western Europe, except for World War II. Rather, the humanitarian enterprise is viewed through the binary of the Global North/Global South, those who save and those who are saved. Continue reading

CfP: Successes and Challenges in Post World War I Relief Activities in Austria and Central Europe

“Why Do We Have To Help Foreign Children, Don’t We Have Enough Poor Children In Our Own Country?”*
Successes and Challenges in Post World War I Relief Activities in Austria and Central Europe

Symposium to be held at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, September 26-27, 2019

jointly organized by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the American Austrian Foundation and the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation

Call for Papers

In the spring of 1919, the American Relief Administration under the leadership of Herbert Hoover started to feed Austrian schoolchildren, a program that continued until 1922 and supplied at its peak more than 300.000 lunches a day. Together with further American as well as other international programs, this project brought major relief to a country starved after four years of war and its aftermath. Child mortality had increased by 60% from prewar levels and in 1919 78% of all Austrian children were considered malnourished by teams of international physicians. Continue reading

Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project Funds “Resilient Humanitarianism”

The project “Resilient Humanitarianism: the League of Red Cross Societies, 1919-1991” aims to advance the concept of resilient humanitarianism through a historical investigation of one humanitarian body, the League of Red Cross Societies, from its inception to the end of the Cold War.  Global humanitarian crises abound due to ongoing conflict and natural disasters, but nation states, bodies such as the United Nations, and humanitarian organization seem incapable of offering lasting solutions to intractable situations.  This project employs rarely accessed archives and an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the evolution of humanitarianism, voluntary action, and global civil society during the 20th century.  This historical analysis can then be used to inform humanitarian policy, debates, and practice in the present and the future. Continue reading

CfP: Histories of the Red Cross Movement since 1919

Call for Papers General Announcement

13/14 June 2019

International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

17 Chemin des Crets, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland

The years following the end of the Great War witnessed one of the great historical junctures in the history of the Red Cross movement: a moment at which the Red Cross’ institutional and normative structures, its technical capabilities and ambitions were transformed in ways that would profoundly affect its activities and outlook over the next hundred years.  This 2-day conference brings together historians and practitioners working on the Red Cross movement to debate the legacy, events, and ideas flowing from 1919 and to engage with contemporary issues and concerns of the broader Red Cross movement.  The conference will be addressed by two leading scholars of humanitarianism:

Continue reading

Book Launch: Sarah Glassford’s Mobilizing Mercy

by Sandrine Murray

This blog is now cross-posted on the McGill-Queen’s University Press website.

 

On Friday, April 28, 2017, the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History (CNHH) hosted a book launch for Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross, by social historian -and a founder of the CNHH- Sarah Glassford. Members of the Red Cross were in attendance, including CEO of the Canadian Red Cross, Conrad Sauvé, who opened the evening with a few words of introduction.

The following includes clips of the launch and a Q&A with Glassford about her book, its reception, and humanitarian history. Continue reading

Humanitarianism and its History: Insights from Down Under, 1/3

by Sarah Glassford

This series is being reposted in HistPhil

RC conference program 2016

RC Conference Program 2016.

During the weekend of 9-11 September 2016, roughly 50 scholars, archivists, museum curators, and aid practitioners gathered at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia to discuss the oldest and arguably most complex of the world’s major humanitarian organizations. “Histories of the Red Cross Movement: Continuity & Change” brought together representatives of more than a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, North America, and Australasia in lively discussions of Red Cross history, Red Cross archives, and the nature of humanitarianism itself. This is the first in a series of blog posts reporting and reflecting on the issues raised at the conference.

 

“Histories of the Red Cross Movement: Continuity & Change” drew together three thought-provoking keynote speakers from different parts of the globe: American political scientist Michael Barnett (University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, Washington, DC), European historian Davide Rodogno (Professor and Head of the International History Department at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva), and New Zealander historian Margaret Tennant (Professor Emeritus and Honorary Research Fellow at Massey University, Palmerston North). Each took a particular approach to thinking about the nature of humanitarianism and its history, but collectively their remarks paint a picture of a research field coming into its own.

Continue reading

Third Bulletin of the CNHH

The Third Newsletter of the CNHH was sent out to the membership and subscribers this morning. The full text of the bulletin can be read below. This update addresses new members and news from the membership, past and future events, publications, and conferences of the Network, and the future research projects and funding.

Continue reading

The Red Cross Compiles a History of the Organization through Objects

4-2-main-walter-safety

Walter Safety, the Canadian Red Cross water safety mascot, 1963.

This Canadian Red Cross digital history project provides all Canadians the chance to interact with over 120 years of Canadian Red Cross history and the opportunity to share their own Red Cross artifacts or items that have been part of their lives. The items and stories featured in this interactive online platform represent the many ways the Canadian Red Cross has mobilized the power of humanity to improve the lives of vulnerable people in Canada and around the world.Many of these items also represent in one way or another how all Red Cross programs and activities are guided by the Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.

Continue reading

« Older posts