Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression

Women’s Rights and Activism

In the years following the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which extended women the right to vote nationwide, women in Kansas City undertook efforts to reform municipal government, serve in elected office, break through traditional barriers to employment in various professions, or lead social and civic clubs in improving the health and welfare of disadvantaged populations. Their efforts often influenced key moments in the city’s history, such as the 1925 city charter that unintentionally helped Tom Pendergast consolidate power and the “clean sweep” reforms that followed in the wake of Pendergast’s indictment in 1939.

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Kansas City women–members of the Athenaeum, the Woman’s City Club, and other organizations–sought to assert power in their community and beyond. Coming from Republican and independent Democratic backgrounds, and abhorring the influence of the Democratic machine, they embraced a progressive spirit that revered what they envisioned as good government.

Masie Jones Ragan
KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.