Events and milestones in Dunant’s life


1828 May 8, Jean-Henri Dunant was born in Geneva
1829 Dunant’s brothers and sisters were born – Sophie-Anne (1829), Daniel (1831), Marie (1933), Pierre-Louis (1834)
1836 The Dunant family travels to Marseille and Toulon. Little Henri is shocked when he sees the inhuman situation in the prison.
1837 Henri accompanies his mother when she visits sick and poor people. Some years later he himself becomes a member of the “society of charity” and visits needy people and prisoners. At the age of 19, with some colleagues from the society, he organizes the “Thursday Association” where they regularly meet to build themselves up. Later this group becomes the “Christian Society of Young Men” (CVJM) – (1848)
1849 Dunant starts his apprenticeship in a bank.
1852 November 30: Foundation of the “Christian Society of Young Men” of Geneva
1853 The “Compagnie des Colonies suisses de Sétif” of Geneva sends Dunant on business to Algeria.
1854 The French government gives Dunant a concession to build mills in Sétif.
1855 Foundation of the “Worldwide Christian Society of Young Men” – the International YMCA – in Paris. Dunant takes part as a delegate of the Genevan society. Afterwards he becomes more and more involved in commercial projects. Following his third trip to Algeria he starts his own business.
1858 Foundation of the Finance and Industrial company Mons-Djémila.
1859 Dunant travels to Italy to see Napoleon III. He wants do discuss business affairs that had become difficult to complete because of the sanctions of the colonial government. June 24: The Battle of Solferino takes place. The result is 40,000 dead and wounded. Dunant sees the horror of the war and decides to help immediately. There is poor professional help and therefore volunteers start to perform the necessary. The refrain “tutti fratelli” – “We are all brothers” – appears.
1860 For one year Dunant is busy writing the book “A memory of Solferino”
1862 In November an edition of 1,600 books of “A memory of Solferino” is published, paid by Henri Dunant.
1863 February 9: Meeting of the “Non-profit-making-organization” of Geneva. Five men are instructed to work out an international agreement whereby belligerent armies are to be accompanied by a volunteer corps. February 17: First meeting of the “Five people committee”. The name is changed into “Permanent International Committee”. February 20 –March 15: Dunant spends this time in Paris and tries to convince people of his ideas. September: Dunant arrives in Berlin, where his ideas are presented to an international audience at the Statistical Congress. Then he visits several principalities.

October 26: International Congress in Geneva; 16 nations take part. Ten resolutions and three wishes (they have to do with the neutrality of the medical corps) pass.


August 9: Opening of the diplomatic Conference with General Henri Dufour in Geneva. August 22: The agreement “for better care taking of wounded people in wars” is signed. The principle of neutrality is accepted. The red cross in the white field becomes the international protection sign for medical corps in wars. This is the peak of Dunant’s life.
1865 Dunant meets Napoleon III in Algeria, hoping to get some advantages out for his business, which is falling more and more into crisis.
1866 Dunant is invited by Queen Augusta to celebrate the victory of the Prussians over the Austrians in Königgrätz. The foundation of a society to help Swiss soldiers and their families. This society becomes the “Swiss Red Cross” in Bern 1914, initiated by General Dufour and Jakob Dubs, a member of the Federal Government.
1867 Dunant founds a general society to open up Palestine. Breakdown of the “Society of Mills” in Mons-Djémila and bankruptcy. Dunant is forced to resign as a secretary of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He leaves Geneva, moves to Paris, and receives a gold medal at the world exhibition.
1868 Dunant lives in very poor circumstances in Paris, earning some money as a journalist.
1870 Dunant founds a “General care society” after war between Germany and France breaks out, and also a society to help during the siege of Paris.
1871 Foundation of the “General Alliance for Rules and Civilization”. Aim: Political and social peace, international arbitration tribunal; betterment for war prisoners. Dunant moves to London.
1872 Congress about the authority of the international arbitration tribunal in London. Dunant becomes secretary of the “Peace Society”.
1874 Diplomatic conference in Brussels to improve the situation of war prisoners. Dunant is often ill. He feels lonely and suffers under his misery. His next stations are Stuttgart, Venice, Rome, Corfu, Alsace, Stuttgart, Basel, Bern, London, Heiden, Seewis, Engadin, Karlsruhe, Paris, Stuttgart, London. From London he calls his family in Geneva for help.
1887 Financially ruined and in poor health he finds a new home in Heiden in July.
1888 In Heiden he organizes a new section of the Red Cross.
1889 He starts to collect documents about the history of the Red Cross and begins to write his “Memories”. He also works on his “Symbolic time cycle”.
1892 Dunant is now a regular pensioner at Heiden Hospital. Dr. Hermann Altherr takes care of him.
1895 Dunant is “discovered” by the journalist Georg Baumberger and returns to European attention.
1896 Dunant receives a yearly pension form the Empress Dowager of Russia, Maria Feodorowna, the 1st Prize of the Medical Congress in Moscow, and the Binet-Fendt-Award of Switzerland.
1897 “Die Entstehungsgeschichte des Roten Kreuzes und der Genfer Konvention” (The history of the Red Cross and of the Convention of Geneva), a popular work by Henry Dunant and Rudolf Müller is published.
1901 December 10: Dunant receives the first Nobel Peace Prize together with Frédéric Passy.
1903 Dunant receives an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Heidelberg.
1908 Dunant is honoured worldwide for his 80th Birthday. “Un souvenir de Solférino” is newly edited.
1909 Dunant writes his will.
1910 October 30: Death of Henry Dunant

November 2: Funeral at the Sihlfeld cemetery in Zürich