Edna Louisa Beard

Beard "Votes for Women

Notable Facts

First Vermont woman to be elected to both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Took office as Representative from the town of Orange three months after the 19th Amendment was passed, giving women the vote, in 1920.

Personal Information

Date of Birth


Date of Death


Primary Residence




Historical Significance

Edna Louise Beard was the first Vermont woman to be elected to the Vermont House of Representatives and to the Vermont Senate. Three months after the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920 giving women suffrage, Beard took office as Representative from the town of Orange. Previously, Beard had spent 16 years as town treasurer (from 1912-1928). She had also served as superintendent of the Barre town schools, an office she took in 1906. Initially, Beard lost the Republican primary for the 1920 election to Burt L. Richardson. However, she ran in the general election on the "Citizen's Party" and won. Beard served one term in the House. As Representative, Beard's first enacted bill raised compensation for single mothers.

In 1923, Edna Beard became the first woman to be elected to the Vermont Senate. Here she was chair of the Library Committee. Her first successful bill as Senator made it possible for county sheriffs to hire women deputies.

When Beard first took office in Montpelier in 1921, she was a 44 year-old housewife from Orange, a town of about 500 people. In the years following women's suffrage, women were increasingly represented in the Legislature. Before "reapportionment" in 1960, every town in Vermont sent one representative to Montpelier. In the smaller agricultural communities, women were often more able to give their time without pay to serve in the legislature.


  • Politician
  • Legislator
  • School Superintendent
  • Town Treasurer


  • Primary school

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • "A Powerful Vote" (Beard mention)

  • "After the 19th Amendment..." a review by Gregory Sanford, State Archivist of "Issues of the Hearth: Women in the Vermont Legislature, 1920-1940, by Jack Zeilenga

  • Deb Markowitz speaks about Edna Beard Link

  • "The Lake at Low Ebb: 1920-1960"

  • VHS Finding Aid - Beard Link

  • Vermont's Great Moments of the Twentieth Century Link

  • Basset, T. D. Seymour. "Edna Louisa Beard." In The Vermont Encyclopedia. Edited by John Duffy. University Press of New England, 2003.

Additional Images

Edna Beard
Edna Beard