Canadian Red Cross Society Service Badge

Date / Period
1949
Place
Ottawa
Object Type
Badges, Pins, Medals and Stamps
Credit
Canadian Red Cross
Topics
Volunteers and Aid Workers

For 120 years, the Canadian Red Cross has relied upon the labours of millions of volunteers whose individual names and contributions are now lost to history. This small enamel “Service” pin is the only known clue telling us that Mrs. M.S. Bradley was one of these volunteers.

The pin fits easily in the palm of one’s hand, and was created as a form of official recognition for exceptional volunteer service. It was meant to be worn on the lapel of one’s coat, suit jacket, or blouse, and would have been recognized by others in the Red Cross as a mark of honour. Mrs. Bradley’s name is engraved on the reverse, along with the year 1949 – likely the year it was awarded to her.

Until the late twentieth century it was customary for married women to be known publicly by their husband’s name or initials, so we know that Mrs. Bradley was married to M.S. Bradley, but not what her own first name was. We do not know her age, when she first began working for the Red Cross, or where she lived. In this respect she symbolizes millions of women, similarly unknown, who worked diligently for local Red Cross branches and auxiliaries through periods of war and peace.

The date 1949 does give us a clue as to what Mrs. Bradley may have been doing. The years 1946-49 were a period of transition for the Canadian Red Cross, as it wound down its Second World War (1939-45) services and opened a new period of peacetime work at home and abroad. 

She may have been an active member of a branch supporting established programs like the outpost hospitals or community health promotion. Perhaps she was a skilled local fundraiser. Alternately, she may have helped spearhead a new post-war initiative in her area, like the Swimming and Water Safety program, Blood Transfusion Service, or Sickroom Supplies Loan Cupboard. 

Ultimately, this lack of detail allows us to see in Mrs. Bradley a representative not merely of women’s contributions to Red Cross work, but of every Canadian over the past 120 years who has offered humble humanitarian service in the ways they were able. Volunteers like Mrs. Bradley have made the Canadian Red Cross what it is today.

Canadian Red Cross Society Service Badge

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