Los Angeles Region Chapter History

  • Commodore Wilbert Longfellow - Red Cross 1923

Great institutions, it has been said, are often born in humble circumstances, sometimes in the pain of conflict and adversity. Destiny provided these elements for the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Its beginning was a humble one, forged against the backdrop of a world at war. Supporting our nation in World War I was the first of the chapter’s activities. Through the years, the programs and services have increased to meet the emerging needs of a growing and diverse Southern California community.

Among the many services provided by the chapter over the years have been: disaster preparedness and relief; establishment of blood and tissue collection programs and a marrow donor recruitment program; first aid/CPR and water safety training programs; health services and health education; international tracing; assistance for members of the military and their families; and many more.

Primary among the many services has been the chapter’s response to aid those affected by disasters, large and small. From the largest, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, to the smallest, residential fires that occur daily, the chapter’s disaster workers have always been there to provide emergency assistance.

The Red Cross Los Angeles Chapter consolidated with other chapters around the Los Angeles area in 2010 to form the Red Cross Los Angeles Region.

Historic Timeline

The Greater Los Angeles Chapter was founded in 1916. Today the chapter is part of the Los Angeles Region, one of the largest Red Cross regions in the country. It is comprised of six chapters: Antelope Valley, Glendale-La Crescenta, Greater Los Angeles, San Gabriel Pomona Valley, Santa Monica and Greater Long Beach. The Region serves more than 88 cities in Los Angeles, Inyo and Mono Counties.

The Greater Los Angeles Chapter has a long and proud history of providing comfort and relief to those in need.

Los Angeles Red Cross - First Office in 1916

1916-1942 (PDF, 2MB)

Established in 1916, the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles began operating from its first headquarters on South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Volunteers immediately plunged into WWI relief and recovery activities until the 1930s, when its growth began to slow. Then along came WWII, and the chapter began serving at home and abroad with 15,000 new volunteers.

First Aid 1940s

1942-1955 (PDF, 2MB)

Wartime activities continued until after the end of WWII, then the chapter concentrated on building the blood donation program established during the war. As the 1950s began, volunteers turned to providing other services, such as first aid, water safety, nursing and health, youth leadership training and continued services for military families.

Los Angeles Red Cross - Armed Forces Family 1960s

1957-1975 (PDF, 2MB)

During the 1960s and 1970s, the chapter responded to the Vietnam War, helping families communicate with their loved ones in the military and providing assistance. The Fall of Saigon in 1975 resulted in the chapter becoming heavily involved in refugee assistance, while continuing to support the regular activities and responding to the 1971 San Fernando Valley Earthquake.

Disaster Institute - 1970s

1976-1992 (PDF, 3MB)

Because Southern California is such a disaster-prone area, a week-long disaster training institute was established to increase the number of volunteers who could assist. They were kept busy responding to single family and apartment fires on an almost daily basis as well as the 1987 Southern California Earthquake and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. At this time, the chapter became heavily involved in international disasters such as the Ethiopian Famine in 1984.

Los Angeles 2009 Team

1993-2009 (PDF, 7MB)

With the coming of the new century, the chapter again entered a wartime mode to support troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. Volunteers rushed to aid victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Southeast Asian Earthquake and Tsunami. At home, they were called to devastating wildfires that left hundreds homeless and in need of the caring assistance of the American Red Cross.