Mt. Vernon Register-News

June 26, 2013

History program to shed light on Clara Barton

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON – Bringing history to life is the primary goal of this Saturday’s Clara Barton presentation at the Jefferson County Historical Village.

At the event, retired history teacher Barbara Kay will portray the Red Cross founder and speak about Barton’s accomplishments. Kay will also take questions from the audience as Barton and as herself.

The presentation will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Historical Village, 1411 N. 27th St. The event is free, but donations to the village will be appreciated.

“It’s a chance to bring history alive for people,” said Jamie Wheeler, director of community relations for the Historical Village. She added that first-person historic portrayals can be more vivid than reading about history in a textbook. “When you see someone dressed up in costume (giving) an engaging performance, it’s a little bit more real.”

Barton was a teacher, nurse and humanitarian perhaps best known as the founder of the American Red Cross. She also came to Mt. Vernon in the aftermath of the Great Cyclone of 1888 to set up a relief program, Wheeler said. The tornado killed 37 people and caused massive damage.

Kay recently retired from the Highland Community School District and has been doing historic portrayals for roughly 20 years. Barton seemed an ideal choice, given her educational background, Kay said in a written statement.

“Miss Barton started out as a school teacher, went on to start one of the first public schools in New Jersey, was a nurse during the Civil War and started the American Red Cross,” Kay said in the statement. “I just retired from the Highland School District, I was a history teacher, so I appreciate Clara Barton’s work with schools.”

This is the third time the Historical Village has hosted one of Kay’s portrayals. The previous performances focused on former First Ladies Mary Todd Lincoln and Dolley Madison, Wheeler said.

Every month, the village holds historical presentations and musical performances to educate and entertain the public.

Much of the time, these events center around the late 1800s or early 1900s, but there are exceptions to this, Wheeler said. For example, the village set up a World War II field kitchen last year.

“We try to mix it up a bit and do different things like that,” Wheeler said.

For more information on Historical Village programs, call 246-0033.