Biographical Sketch of Ida Reid Blair

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ida Reid (Mrs. John) Blair, 1874 -1930

By Ariana Benhuri, undergraduate, SUNY Binghamton, Professor Leigh Ann Wheeler

Chairman of the Publicity Section of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party

Suffragist Ida Reid Blair was born in New York in 1874, daughter of Aaron and Estelle Reid. In 1908 she married John Blair, an actor. A 1910 obituary for her sister, Estelle Reid, indicated that Ida Reid worked extensively in missionary and charitable work in New York City.

Mrs. John Blair was a member of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party (WSP). Founded by Carrie Chapman Catt, this party claimed that it was a "political union of existing equal suffrage organizations in the City of New York". This party played an increasingly important role in not only local politics, but national as well. This instrumental party enabled hundreds of women to join, for the first time, a political movement of which they were the main constituents. Consequently, this organization was the direct cause of the passage of the women suffrage amendment in New York State and also contributed to the passage of the 19th Amendment. To do this, the WSP tackled many New York State political problems and organized a plan of action, which included recruiting women from various walks of life. Therefore, these women were able to successfully garner voters and win votes.

In order to raise awareness, WSP members passed out pamphlets containing vital, decisive information that convinced people to join their dedicated cause. Additionally, parades held by the WSP included women of color as well. With working-class women being a prominent portion of the party, they helped ensure that women were being paid equal and fair wages. Moreover, in addition to Carrie Chapman Catt being a noteworthy member of the group, Mary Ritter Beard, Helen Rogers Reid, and Vira Boarman Whitehouse were influential members as well.

Devoted to her party, Mrs. John Blair was the Chairman of the Publicity Section of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party. She arduously worked to keep suffrage a permanent staple in the public. Furthermore, Mrs. Blair's worked with some of the most eminent writers and artists of New York City. Through their relentless work on campaign posters, banners, and flyers, suffrage cartoons and slogans were able to make their way into daily papers. Mrs. Blair stated that she had always been a suffragist at heart, thanks to her mother Mrs. A. B. Reid, who was a passionate believer in the rights of women. Prior to her renowned work with the New York State Woman Suffrage Party, Mrs. Blair was a member of the board of directors of the Equal Franchise Society, and in the summer of 1915 she took the place of Mrs. Howard Mansfield as the chairman of that organization. Moreover, Mrs. Blair was a member of the Press and Publicity Council of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party when Mrs. Norman de R. Whitehouse was the chairman, and when Whitehouse noticed Blair's relentless work, she named Blair publicity chairman. Due to her incessant passion for the party, Blair spent most of her time at the suffrage headquarters, proclaiming that "I realized very soon in my suffrage activity, that there is no half way. To win, we must put all of our time and energy into the campaign. Win we will and victory in New York will settle the suffrage question for this country."

Being such a passionate chairman for the Publicity Section, she advertised the vital cause of her party in every way possible and oftentimes went to extreme lengths, such as personally hanging up many of the state banners that encouraged men to vote for suffrage. These banners were paraded through the crowded streets of New York and other large cities as well. Furthermore, Blair made sure to utilize every form of advertising she could, such as bill boards, street cars, subways, elevated cars, railroads, and stations. Large electric signs and painted illuminated signs caught the attention of many during the crucial weeks leading up to the election of 1917. The slogan used incessantly was "1,014,000 women ask you to Vote for Women Suffrage November 6." Further displaying her passion for the cause, and to call attention to women's struggles, Mrs. Blair and pilot Leda Richberg-Hornsby "bombed President Wilson while he was traveling on his presidential yacht in December of 1916." However, these weren't any ordinary bombs. They were leaflets that advertised the upcoming National Woman's Party Convention in Chicago, which was sponsored by the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. By going to such lengths, Richberg-Hornsby and Blair demonstrated their relentless dedication to the cause, and how they were such vital suffragists.

Mrs. John C. Blair died November 4, 1930, in New York.

Sources:

Arroyo, Carmen E. "Women Suffrage in New York State." New York State Assembly. Accessed October 23, 2017. http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/member_files/084/20090313/.

Blackwell, Alice Stone. The Woman Citizen . Vol. 1. Series 1. 1917

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. History of Women's Suffrage . Vol. IV. New York, NY: J.J. Little & Ives, 1922. [LINK.]

Melvin, Tessa. "1917: When Women Won Right to Vote." The New York Times, November 1, 1987. Accessed October 23, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/01/nyregion/1917-when-women-won-right-to-vote.html

O'Gan, Patri. "Traveling for Suffrage Part 3: Flying by the seat of their skirts." Americanhistory.edu. March 19, 2014. Accessed September 27, 2017. http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2014/03/traveling-for-suffrage-part-3-.html.

Schaffer , Ronald. "The New York City Woman Suffrage Party, 1909-1919." New York History, 3rd ser., 43 (1962): 269-87. Accessed October 23, 2017. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23153512?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.

"Women Suffrage Party." Wikipedia . Accessed October 22, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_Suffrage_Party.

For the obituary of Estelle Reid, see New York Sun, April 26, 1910.

"Mrs. John Blair Dies." Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 7, 1930.

New York State Census, 1875.

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