For more than a century the Canadian Red Cross Society has provided help and comfort to vulnerable people at home and abroad. In the first detailed national history of the organization, Sarah Glassford reveals how the European-born Red Cross movement came to Canada and took root, and why it flourished. From its origins in battlefield medicine to the creation of Canada’s first nationwide free blood transfusion service during the Cold War, Mobilizing Mercy charts crucial organizational changes, the influence of key leaders, and the impact of social, cultural, political, economic, and international trends over time. Glassford shows that the key to the Red Cross's longevity lies in its ability to reinvent itself by tapping into the concerns and ambitions of diverse groups including militia doctors, government officials, middle-class women, and schoolchildren. Through periods of war and peace, the Canadian Red Cross pioneered new services and filled gaps in government aid to become a ubiquitous agency on the wartime home front, a major domestic public health organization, and a respected provider of international humanitarian aid. Opening a window onto the shifting relationship between voluntary organizations and the state, Mobilizing Mercy is a compelling portrait of a major humanitarian organization, its people, and its ever-evolving place in Canadian society.
Sarah Glassford is a social historian of Canada who earned her PhD at York University.
“Dynamic, evocative, and comprehensive, Sarah Glassford’s account will attract the attention of scholars, students, Red Cross members and donors, and readers engaged with the history of war, disasters, transnational solidarities, patriotism, health, women and youth, paid and voluntary work, not-for-profit organizations and the making of the welfare state.” Dominique Marshall, Carleton University
"Sarah Glassford's Mobilizing Mercy is a taut, insightful, and incisive look at the history of the Canadian Red Cross Society (CRCS) – later the Canadian Red Cross – from its inception on the battlefield of Batoche in 1885 to 1970. Using a plethora of primary sources, including CRCS minute books, annual reports, newsletters, and, for an outside perspective, House of Commons Debates and Sessional Papers, she takes readers on a tour of CRCS work both within Canada and overseas." Canadian Military History
"Mobilizing Mercy demonstrates sound scholarship and good historical contextualization, casting the history of the CRCS within wider trends in Canadian social history. It provides an excellent example of the enduring importance of non-governmental organizations in the delivery of health care services. Moreover, it sheds light, in particular, on the unique challenges of nursing and medical practice in rural and remote areas." Journal of the History of Medicine