Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Museum

Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Museum, Washington DC

Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Museum

Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Museum
4.5
Military Museums • Historic Sites • History Museums
Thursday
11:00 - 17:00
Friday
11:00 - 17:00
Saturday
11:00 - 17:00
About
Explore the unassuming boarding house rooms where Clara Barton lived and worked during the Civil War. These rooms were Barton's home base first as she braved the battlefield, then as she searched for 63,000 + missing soldiers.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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How to get there
  • Gallery Place • 3 min walk
  • Archives • 3 min walk
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4.5
36 reviews
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Kittygal
Los Angeles, CA6,532 contributions
Glad I Visited
Jan 2020 • Solo
I stopped in on the morning of my return flight; I'd been told the museum was worth visiting during my Red Cross Museum tour the day before.

I was very glad I took the time. As I told the docent, I'd read a book on Clara in 3rd grade and always admired her. It was interesting using the same staircase that she would have, all those years ago. I loved seeing the original wallpaper now reproduced to furnish these rooms.

Ms. Barton' various humanitarian works are displayed and one learns she did so many amazing things during her life.

The story of how this museum came to be is quite fantastic. But what really amazed me was the letter that started it all was simply addressed with the recipient's name and Washington, D.C. That's it. No General Delivery, no street, no number. D.C. was obviously a smaller place then and everyone knew someone. Come to think of it, it really hasn't changed...

P.S. to the staff: yes, I made my plane with no issue. I'm actually sitting at Dulles as I'm writing.
Written 16 January 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to write a review! We're thrilled you enjoyed your visit learning about Clara Barton's incredible life. Glad to hear you made your flight, and don't hesitate to drop in next time you're in town.
Written 17 January 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Brendan S
Arlington, VA1,197 contributions
Interesting history
Dec 2019
Clara Barton is well-known as a Civil War battlefield nurse and founding the American Red Cross. After the Civil War, though, she led an effort to find out what happened to soldiers missing in the Civil War from a small office in Washington, DC. This office was apparently forgotten for 130 years until it - and all of its records including letters and the office signs - were discovered while they were preparing to demolish the building. Instead, the office was restored and some of the items went on display.

This museum includes a small lobby display, a short guided tour and the artifacts in the office spaces. The history is more interesting than the space itself, which consists mostly of empty rooms, wallpapered using the same patterns that Barton had on the walls, some of which remained in place a century later. It's a pretty good place to learn about Barton's work and life, though, and is easily-accessible - albeit hidden in plain sight - in the heart of Penn Quarter.
Written 21 December 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to visit and write a review. We're glad you enjoyed learning about Barton's life in DC during and after the Civil War. The site's close proximity to other museums like Ford's Theater and the National Portrait Gallery make us a great stop on a day of site-seeing in DC.
Written 27 December 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

beckybalt
Baltimore, MD18 contributions
Well worth a visit!
Oct 2019
This museum is worth a tour for two reasons. First, it tells the story of Clara Barton’s role in tracking down missing Civil War soldiers on behalf of their families. In addition, the way this building and the artifacts stored in the attic were discovered is fascinating. The rooms used be Clara Barton and her staff have been largely unchanged since the early 1900s. It’s not often that a “secret” such as this is uncovered.
Written 16 October 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to write a review. You're correct in that Clara Barton's work in searching for missing soldiers is a much less well known aspect of her legacy.and the discovery of her wartime home was truly amazing. Anyone who visits will be treated to these and other incredible true stories from our nation's past.
Written 21 October 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Frequent Traveler
Texas35 contributions
Wow!
Jul 2019 • Business
This museum is fantastic. You not only gain a much greater appreciation of the multitalented Clara Barton and her humanitarian influence worldwide, but also get a glimpse into what living in a boardinghouse in the the Civil War era was like. The story about how this museum came about is worth the price of admission.
Written 25 July 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for a taking the time to write a review. We're so glad to hear you enjoyed the amazing story of discovery and the incredible true tales from Clara Barton's time living there. Barton serves as an inspiration to everyone and the Missing Soldiers Office Museum provides a great space to tell her story.
Written 26 July 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

interceptpubs
Columbus, IN1,004 contributions
Fascinating look at the woman and her mission
Jun 2019 • Solo
The story of this rather unassuming building and the secret in its upstairs loft is spellbinding. We first heard about it many years on C-Span. In the fall of 1996, the GSA was surveying an old rundown building on 7th Street in preparation for demolition. All most people could say about the building was that had been a shoe store for 70 years, but the business had finally run its course and the building was sold in 1992 after the store closed.

However, the building was much older, dating back to 1853. It was a three story affair, but since around 1900, only the bottom two floors were used. The third floor was simply blocked off, mainly to save the cost in having to bring it up to then current fire codes. Now, a couple of GSA workers were poking around up there as the final step before the building could be torn down. One happened to look up and spot an envelope hanging from the slats in the ceiling. This led to an exploration of the attic where over 2,000 documents and artifacts were found relating to Clara Barton and the "Missing Soldier Office."

Today, Clara Barton is best known as the founder of the American Red Cross, but her role in starting this humanitarian organization built upon and indeed was possible due to her earlier work during the Civil War. During the war, she did everything from collecting and distributing food, clothing, and bandages to soldiers in the field to personally caring for the wounded in combat to running Union field hospitals. After the war ended, she started and ran the Missing Soldier Office to provide a clearinghouse of information on the disposition of missing soldiers from the war. In era before computers or even typewriters, record keeping of the missing and killed in the massive battles being fought had been abysmal. She and her very small staff answered some 40,000 inquiries from family members concerning missing soldiers and found what had happened to over 20,000 missing soldiers who'd previously just been buried as unknowns.

The GSA found in addition to the material in the attic that the space occupied on the third floor by Barton's operation and even the small room that she kept for herself as living space was pretty much as it had been left when she closed the operation in 1868. Plans to tear down the building were abandoned, and the idea for this museum turned into reality.

We visited the museum recently on a Thursday morning (it is only open Thursdays through Saturdays - other days possibly by pre-arranged appointment). After paying the $9.50 admission (for adults), we watched a short video and looked at the displays on the ground floor. We then had a personal (only because no other visitors were here at the time) one-hour tour with a docent of the rooms that had Barton had used some 150 years ago.

The basic rooms (wallpaper, etc.) have been restored to what they looked like in Barton's day based on what was found back in the 1990s. There are some artifacts on display - including the innovative pre-printed form that Barton used to respond to inquiries, some personal items found in the attic, etc. - but the limited furniture, although representative of the period, is not original. Frankly, the talk and Q&A with the docent was the best part of the tour. It would be nice if some more relevant material from the National Museum of Civil War Medicine's main unit were brought in to flesh out this museum a little more, but it is still a great to see and well worth the time.
Written 19 June 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for writing such a detailed review! We're thrilled to hear you enjoyed your time in the incredible space. It truly does feel like Clara Barton just left.There aren't many spaces like the Missing Soldiers Office.
Written 20 June 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

BeccainPA
Milford, PA251 contributions
Clara Could do ANYTHING!
Mar 2019 • Family
Any trip to DC is not complete without a tour of the Clara Barton Missing soldiers office. This museum is just a few minute walk north of the mall at 437 7th Street NW. There is a charge, $8, but hearing all the things Clara Barton accomplished is inspiring. The hours are limited, so make sure you check. Currently, they are open Thursday through Saturday, from 11-5. They do offer guided tours that last about 1 hour. Clara gathered and delivered supplies for civil war soldiers, provided first aid to soldiers on the battlefield, After the war, she started the Missing Soldiers Office to help families find their loved ones who had been soldiers. Last but not least, Clara started the American Red Cross!!! If you want to hear the story of a woman who never took no for an answer, or just to see a beautiful old building, you have to take a tour of the Clara Barton Missing Soldier Office. We had been to DC before, but had never been here before. We will recommend this museum to anyone visiting DC. They also have an elevator for anyone to use to get to the 2nd floor.
Written 31 March 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to write a review. You couldn't be more right - Clara Barton was amazing. From her time as one of the first female government employees, to her life saving care as a nurse during the Civil War, to locating 23,000 missing soldiers, to founding the American Red Cross, amazing is the word for it. The Missing Soldier's Office offers a unique chance to tour the space where she lived and worked during and after the Civil War, so we're glad you took advantage of it!
Written 2 April 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

a1015
Baltimore, MD45 contributions
Hidden gem of a museum for those interested in Clara Barton
Mar 2019 • Couples
This was located across the street from our Stay Alfred hotel, so we decided on an unplanned visit. It is free to browse the first floor, which includes a short video about Clara Barton and the discovery of her artifacts in the building.

We paid 9.50 per adult for the tour, which Includes a tour of the upstairs area where Clara Barton lived, as well as a detailed explanation about Clara Barton and her life. Our tour guide was well informed and enjoyable. I would definitely recommend it if you have any interest in Clara Barton or the American Red Cross.
Written 21 March 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
We're so glad you enjoyed your visit to the Missing Soldiers Office. Our goal for the first floor is to give visitors a sense of what they might see and learn upstairs in the area where Clara Barton lived, and it will be enhanced by the completion of a large mural being painted there. We're equally glad that you found the guided tour worth it since that's what our staff pride themselves on.
Written 26 March 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

JohnBCowgill
Washington DC, DC797 contributions
A Missing Gem
Mar 2019 • Solo
I passed by this place and never knew it was here. It has much history that was almost destroyed, but was spare, and that is good because this place is a must see.
Written 19 March 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to write a review. We're glad you enjoyed your visit, and that you got to see Clara Barton's Civil War residence which was almost destroyed. Don't hesitate to come again to one of our special events.
Written 20 March 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Robert D
Brooklyn, New York1,738 contributions
A hidden gem
Nov 2018 • Solo
This museum is a hidden gem. Watch the 15 minute introductory video and then take the excellent guided tour. Afterwards you can wander about on your own. It's like stepping back in time to the 1860s. Beautifully preserved and highly recommended.
Written 6 December 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to write a review. You're quite right that the atmosphere in the museum (owing largely to historically accurate wallpaper) really makes you feel like you stepped back in time to the 1860's. It's a truly unique experience, and we're glad you enjoyed it.
Written 7 December 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

brittany z z
Amherst, MA121 contributions
Pain to visit
Sep 2018 • Solo
It has limited hours, and for those who work, you only have Saturday to visit. I prefer Sunday since parking is free in the city. But, then I was really annoyed by the fact they only have one person working here and they shut down for every tour. So you pay the fee for parking and the place is closed with a sign that they are doing a tour. I had to refill the meter three times and kill hours as I kept missing the window that a tour started. Very annoying and not customer friendly.
Written 3 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking the time to write a review and let us know how we can improve.We're very sorry you had such a frustrating experience visiting the Missing Soldiers Office. We're already working on some specific ways we can improve the visitor experience. Hopefully if you return your visit will be more pleasant.
Written 6 September 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Museum

Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Museum is open:
  • Thu - Sat 11:00 - 17:00
Buy tickets in advance on Tripadvisor. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund.

We recommend booking Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Museum tours ahead of time to secure your spot. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your tour starts for a full refund. See all 1 Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Museum tours on Tripadvisor