Barrett was born Katherine Waller in Falmouth, Virginia, to Ann Eliza Stribbling Waller and Withers Waller in 1858. She attended Arlington Institute for Girls in Alexandria. On July 19, 1876, she married Robert Barrett, an Episcopal minister. The couple eventually had six children. With her husband's encouragement, she continued her education, earning a medical degree from the Women's College of Georgia, in Atlanta, in 1892 and completing the nursing course in 1894 at the Florence Nightingale Training School in London.
Following her husband's death in 1896, Barrett became superintendent of the National Florence Crittenton Mission and, following Mr. Crittenton's death in 1909, became its president. Barrett's leadership advanced the organization's national prominence and established her as one of the leading social reformers of her time. The mission provided health care, education, and vocational training to unwed mothers, needy immigrant women, reformed prostitutes, and women who had contracted venereal diseases. Barrett and the work carried out by the mission were an integral part of the effort to end prostitution.
Barrett supported woman suffrage and served as honorary vice president of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. She served as president of the American Legion Auxiliary and the National Council of Women and was active in the National Congress of Mothers, the National Prison Association, and the League of Women Voters. Barrett also sat on the board of the College of William and Mary.
- Fourteen Years' Work Among Erring Girls (1901)
- Some Practical Suggestions on the Conduct of a Rescue Home (1903)
1858 - Kate Waller Barrett is born in Falmouth, Virginia.
July 19, 1876 - Kate Waller marries Robert Barrett.
1892 - Kate Waller Barrett earns a medical degree from the Women's College of Georgia.
1894 - Kate Waller Barrett completes the nursing course at the Florence Nightingale Training School in London.
1895 - Kate Waller Barrett, after establishing the Florence Crittenton Mission more than ten years earlier, helps the mission become a national movement where local centers for single mothers are opened across the country.
1909 - After the death of Charles Nelson Crittenton, Kate Waller Barrett becomes the president of the National Florence Crittenton Mission.
1925 - Kate Waller Barrett dies at her home in Alexandria, Virginia.
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First published: October 8, 2008 | Last modified: September 13, 2012