Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Joanna Dow Croft Reid, 1882-1965
By Kailey Loughran, student, University of Vermont
President, Burlington (VT) Equal Suffrage League; Vice President, Secretary, Vermont Equal Suffrage Association; Convention Delegate, National American Woman Suffrage Association
Joanna Dow Croft was born on July 10, 1882, in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, to Arthur J. and Addie Adams Croft. Arthur Croft worked as a farm laborer, a job that took him to Lancaster, Massachusetts, for a short time. He came back to Enosburg Falls and married Addie Adams in 1876. Joanna Croft was the first of three children, all of whom grew up in Enosburg Falls. Arthur Croft also worked as a merchant, mostly selling dairy products, and he was an active member of Vermont politics, representing Enosburg Falls in the state legislature in 1892, serving as the county commissioner in 1896, and becoming a state senator for Franklin County in 1906.
During childhood, Joanna Croft competed in various public speaking contests and performed at school functions as a musician and singer. She exceled in the arts during her school years, acting in plays put on at public functions and winning second place for her artwork at the Franklin County Fair in 1892. As a young girl, Croft met regularly with the Willing Workers, a Christian association that worked towards setting up the first Red Cross chapter in Vermont. This was to be Croft's first exposure to public service, a role she would commit to fully with the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association.
After boarding in Burlington and graduating from Burlington High School in 1900, Joanna Croft became a teacher. She completed a teacher-training course at the Bridgewater Normal School in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. From 1906 to 1911, Croft taught at the Faulkner Grammar School in Malden, Massachusetts. She returned to Burlington, Vermont, in 1912 to teach at her old high school. She served on the Vermont Free Public Library Commission as the head of teacher training, and she taught the training course for Burlington High School. Croft continued her education, attending a summer school program at Columbia University in New York City in 1916. She taught at the high school in Burlington until 1917, when she married Edward Reid, a successful Burlington businessman, in Enosburg Falls.
Joanna Croft Reid began her suffrage work before marriage. In 1916, she served as both the president of the Equal Suffrage League of Burlington and the recording secretary for the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association (VESA). On September 5, 1916, the St. Albans (VT) Daily Messenger reported on the "Votes for Women" booth at the Franklin County Fair and noted that Joanna Croft would be distributing suffrage literature and buttons at the booth. In 1917, Joanna Croft Reid was elected secretary of VESA and was regarded as an authority on municipal suffrage. She attended the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, as a state delegate in April 1919, returning to Vermont to give lectures on her experience there. That year she served as president of the Burlington Equal Suffrage League and the vice president of VESA, presiding over various meetings and lectures held in Burlington during that time.
Remaining a prominent public figure in Vermont, Joanna Croft Reid was elected the president of the Green Mountain Club in 1916. She helped to establish the Mount Mansfield section of the Long Trail and worked to restructure the Burlington section during her presidency. She was also active with the local Girl Scouts.
Joanna and Edward Reid had children later in life. Daughter Ester Croft Reid was born on May 16, 1921, and daughter Ruth Reid was born on October 3, 1924, both in Burlington. Ester Croft married Donald Friedrichs and moved to Livonia, Michigan. Ruth Reid married Edward William Steele, Jr., who had served in World War I.
Joanna Croft and Edward Reid remained in Burlington, and she died on November 11, 1965, at the age of 83. She was buried with family at the Hinesburg Village Cemetery in Hinesburg, Vermont.
Research Note: Joanna Croft Reid's last name was also spelled Reed or Read, especially in early newspaper references and in the History of Woman Suffrage.
Appendix. Annual Report of the School Committee and Superintendent of Public Schools of the City of Malden, 1906-1910. Malden, MA: City of Malden, 1907-1911, respectively. GoogleBooks.
Burlington (VT) Free Press, various articles, 1909-1937. Newspapers.com.
Deaths and Funerals, "Mrs. Joanna C. Reid," Burlington (VT) Free Press, November 12, 1965. Newspapers.com.
Enosburg Standard, various articles, 1896-1950. Newspapers.com.
"Equal Suffrage Meeting This Afternoon," Burlington (VT) Daily News, January 6, 1919. Newspapers.com.
"Equal Suffrage Meeting Tomorrow," Burlington (VT) Free Press, July 9, 1918. Newspapers.com.
Find a Grave. Joanna Croft Reid. Posted November 30, 2015. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/155552188.
"Girl Scout Notes," Burlington (VT) Free Press, November 22, 1943. Newspapers.com.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. "Vermont," chapter 44 in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp. 667-80. LINK
Local Mention, Richford (VT) Journal and Gazette, May 9, 1919. Newspapers.com.
"Meeting of Equal Franchise League Is Well Attended," Burlington (VT) Daily News, February 7, 1919. Newspapers.com.
Reid, Joanna Croft. "Equal Suffrage Statement," Burlington (VT) Free Press, March 2, 1918. Newspapers.com.
Reid, Joanna Croft. "Voting List of City Shows 4,480 Names for Election Tuesday," Burlington (VT) Daily News, March 2, 1918. Newspapers.com.
"Sheldon Fair Opens Today," St. Albans (VT) Daily Messenger, September 5, 1916. Newspapers.com.
St. Albans (VT) Messenger, various articles, 1860-1922. Newspapers.com
"Suffrage Convention," Burlington (VT) Free Press, March 6, 1919. Newspapers.com.
"To Invade Legislature," St. Albans (VT) Daily Messenger, August 31, 1916. Newspapers.com.
United States Census 1900, s.v. "Joanna Croft, Enosburg, Franklin, VT." Ancestry Library.
United States Census 1910, s.v. "Joanna Croft, Malden, Middlesex, MA." Ancestry Library.
United States Census 1920, 1930, 1940, s.v. "Joanna Reid, Burlington, Chittenden, VT." Ancestry Library.
Vermont Birth Records, 1909-2008. Ester Croft Reid, May 16, 1921, Burlington; and Ruth Bell Reid, October 3, 1924, Burlington. Ancestry Library.
Vermont Death Records, 1909-2008. Joanna Croft Reid, death November 15, 1965, Burlington. Ancestry Library.
Vermont Vital Records, 1720-1908. Joanna Dow Croft, birth July 10, 1882, Enosburgh. Ancestry Library.