Clara Barton's Biography by Elizabeth Brown Pryor

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Clara Barton's Biography by Elizabeth Brown Pryor

The author, Elizabeth Brown Pryor, wrote her biography of Clara Barton with the intent to not only tell her life, but to use personal items (diary and letters) of Clara’s found to help fill information of how Clara felt herself about incidents in her life. Her writing style is one that is easy to understand and also one that enables you to actually get pulled into the story of the person. While other biographical books are simply dry facts, this book, with the help of new found documents, allows Pryor to give a modern look on Barton’s life. This book gave a lot of information about Ms. Barton while also opening up new doors to the real Clara Barton that was not always the angel we hear about. Pryor’s admiration for Ms. Barton is clear in her writing, but she doesn’t see her faults as being a bad thing, but rather as a person who used all available means to help her fellow soldiers and friends along in life.

Born on December 25, 1921, Clara grew up in a family of four children, all at least 11 years older than her (Pryor, 3). Clara’s childhood was more of one that had several babysitters than siblings, each taking part of her education. Clara excelled at the academic part of life, but was very timid among strangers. School was not a particularly happy point in her life, being unable to fit in with her rambunctious classmates after having such a quiet childhood. The idea of being a burden to the family was in Clara’s head and felt that the way to win the affection of her family was to do extremely well in her classes to find the love that she felt was needed to be earned. She was extremely proud of the positive attention that her achievement of an academic scholarship (Pryor, 12). This praise for her accomplishment in the field of academics enriched her “taste for masculine accomplishments”. Her mother however, began to take notice of this and began to teach her to “be more feminine” by cooking dinners and building fires (Pryor, 15). The 1830’s was a time when the women of the United States really began to take a stand for the rights that they deserved (Duiker, 552). Growing up in the mist of this most likely helped Barton become the woman she turned out to be.
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