The League of Red Cross Societies, the Australian Red Cross and its Junior
Red Cross in the 1920s
This chapter examines the League of Red Cross Societies, founded in 1919, and
focuses on one national society, the Australian Red Cross, and how it
realigned itself as part of the transition from war to peace in the 1920s.
It did this, in part, through the emerging global programme of the Junior
Red Cross. To allow children to gather together under the auspices of the
Red Cross to foster and extend its work beyond national borders and into the
international spaces was led by the League of Red Cross Societies. Emerging
national Red Cross societies such as the Australian Red Cross found value
and guidance from the Movement’s new federated body, and played a part in
ensuring its survival and success.
Nursing leaders of the League of Red Cross Societies between the wars
The League of Red Cross Societies was formed in May 1919 by the national Red Cross societies of the United States, France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan. One of its early initiatives was the establishment of an international post-graduate public health nursing programme in association with Bedford College, London. This paper focuses on this innovative public health programme and the early Nursing Directors of the League of Red Cross Societies, Alice Fitzgerald, Katherine Olmsted and Maynard Carter, who fought to establish and consolidate the highly successful programme within the highly precarious environment of the League’s early years. It provides us with an insight into the impact of the League of Red Cross Societies on the Red Cross movement and its role as a nascent supranational organisation facilitating the exchange of knowledge and information that led to the development of nursing and public health programmes extending across Europe, the Americas and Asia. In doing so, the paper reveals the geopolitical tensions, the competing and contested agendas of other organisations including from within the Red Cross movement, and the philosophies and inherent conflicts surrounding nursing training more broadly during the interwar period. Finally, it suggests that without the League of Red Cross Societies, there would have been no international public health nursing courses in the 1920s and 1930s, and that the development of public health more broadly would have looked very different.
This book offers new insights into the history of the Red Cross Movement, the
world’s oldest humanitarian body originally founded in 1863 in Geneva,
Switzerland. Incorporating new research, the book reimagines and re-evaluates
the Red Cross as a global institutional network. It is the first book of its
kind to focus on the rise of the Red Cross, and analyses the emergence of
humanitarianism through a series of turning points, practices and myths. The
book explores the three unique elements that make up the Red Cross Movement: the
International Committee of the Red Cross; the International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent, formerly known as the League of Red Cross Societies
(both based in Geneva); and the 191 national societies. It also coincides with
the centenary of the founding of the International Federation of the Red Cross
and Red Crescent, formed in May 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War.
The book will be invaluable for students, lecturers, humanitarian workers, and
those with a general interest in this highly recognizable and respected
humanitarian brand. With seventeen chapters by leading scholars and researchers
from Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and America, the book deserves a
place on the bookshelves of historians and international relations scholars
interested to learn more about this unique, complex and contested
This chapter introduces the subject of humanitarianism, outlines the various
constituent elements that make up the Red Cross Movement and gives an
overview of the current state of scholarship on the subject. It introduces
the three themes, and summarises the contributions made to these themes by
the chapters brought together in the volume. Finally, it indicates avenues
for future research.