Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression

Women’s Rights and Activism

Articles

Author: 
Kyle Anthony
University of Saint Mary

The history of the Donnelly Garment Company and its battle with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) is one that defies conventional understandings of American life in the Great Depression. It is a story of a female entrepreneur succeeding in an era of economic paralysis, and one of a union failing to organize a factory in a period when workers won substantive rights. ILGWU president David Dubinsky, Nell Donnelly Reed, and Senator James A. Reed were the principal figures in a contest to organize a single garment factory, a legal battle that came to represent much larger questions.

Author: 
David Hanzlick
Park University, Rockhurst University

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.

Author: 
Henrietta Rix Wood
University of Missouri – Kansas City

This essay analyzes Bluford’s initial reporting on her effort to enter MU, her commentary on her failed civil lawsuit in May 1942, and the announcement of the newspaper’s fundraising campaign for African American education in the same month. The facts of Bluford’s three-year crusade to enroll at MU are known: she repeatedly tried to enroll at the university and pursued three lawsuits, losing the last one in April 1942. The fact that she and The Call collaborated to influence readers’ responses to the quest for African American educational rights has not been acknowledged or analyzed.

Author: 
Barbara Magerl

If Ellen Quinlan had been an only child, it would have been Kansas City's misfortune. The twelfth child in a Parsons, Kansas, family, she redesigned without any patterns the hand-me-downs she wore. This natural talent led to a famous career.

Author: 
Daniel Coleman
Formerly Missouri Valley Special Collections

In a posthumous tribute to the life of Katharine Berry Richardson, the Kansas City Times editorialized that in an earlier age, her life "might have been officially described as saintly." Richardson's heightened sense of mission gives her life a transcendent quality, in which the milestones and definitions we use to chronicle normal lives seem insufficient.

Author: 
Janice Lee

It is safe to say that during the nearly 50 years she worked there, Carolyn Doughty was the Women’s City Club. Her role far exceeded her modest title of "executive secretary."

Ada Crogman Franklin was born in Atlanta, Georgia, one of eight children of Dr. and Mrs. William H. Crogman. Her father, one of the distinguished scholars of the African American race, was professor of Latin and Greek at Clark University for 37 years and then became the first African American president of Clark, serving for seven years. Mrs. Franklin, along with her two sisters and five brothers, grew up on the Clark University campus.

Author: 
Janice Lee

When Carolyn Farwell Fuller first entered the education field, it was as a schoolteacher—the highest position a female educator could attain in the early 1900s. She surely couldn’t have predicted her groundbreaking role as the first female to serve on the Kansas City Board of Education.

Author: 
Jason Roe
Kansas City Public Library

Elizabeth Bruce Crogman, who in 1925 became founder of Kansas City’s Florence Home for Colored Girls to house unwed African American women who were pregnant, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 1, 1894. The home functioned as the counterpart to similar organizations that served the area's white residents but denied care to young black women.

Author: 
Jason Roe
Kansas City Public Library

On November 8, 1917, Mary Tiera Farrow and 20 other female lawyers formed the Women's Bar Association of Kansas City. Farrow was one of the few women in the United States who successfully practiced law in the early 1900s, overcoming the discrimination women faced in the legal field and society generally. Having been denied the professional benefits of any existing bar association, she led a group of 20 women in establishing their own bar in Kansas City. It was just one of many pioneering acts that Farrow undertook for herself and for women's rights at large.

Author: 
Jason Roe
Kansas City Public Library

Dorothy Gallagher was born on January 8, 1894, to a wealthy Kansas City family. Not content to live quietly in affluence, Gallagher gained interest in a Catholic women’s group called the Agnes Ward Amberg Club, which carried out social work in Mexican communities in the west side of the city.

Author: 
Jason Roe
Kansas City Public Library

Nelle Nichols Peters is known as a pathbreaking female architect, designer of nearly 1,000 local buildings, and one of the most prolific architects in Kansas City during the 1920s. Despite the fact that many of these buildings still occupy prominent locations, especially near the Country Club Plaza, Nelle Peters remains a relatively obscure figure in Kansas City history.

Author: 
Jason Roe
Kansas City Public Library

Elizabeth Bruce Crogman, who in 1925 became the founder of Kansas City’s Florence Home for Colored Girls (which housed unwed African American women who were pregnant), was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on May 1, 1894. The home functioned as the counterpart to similar organizations that served the area's white residents but denied care to young black women. Under Crogman's guidance through the 1940s, the Florence Home for Colored Girls eventually expanded to offer counseling, education, shelter, and medical care to dozens of Kansas City's impoverished black mothers and children.