Kate Waller was born in 1858 in Stafford County, Virginia. She married Robert S. Barrett, a minister, in 1876. It was while her husband was serving as the pastor of a church in Richmond that she began to have an interest in helping young unwed mothers. Barrett received an M.D. from the Women's Medical College of Georgia in 1892 and opened a home for pregnant girls in Atlanta in 1893. She received funding for the home from Charles Crittenton of New York, who had already provided financial support to several similar insitutions.
In 1896, after moving to Alexandria, Barrett and Crittenton worked together to found the National Florence Crittenton Mission. Barrett served as vice president, general superintendant, and later president of the group. It is for her involvement with the organization that she received this month's document, a laudatory letter from President Theodore Roosevelt. Through the Crittenton Mission, Barrett helped found other homes for young women throughout the United States and abroad. She continued to be involved with social causes until her death in 1925. The Kate Waller Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Library is named in her honor.