THE PENDERGAST YEARS

Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression

19th Amendment Centennial

Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment recognized women's constitutional right to vote. After achieving longtime goals of suffrage and Prohibition, politically active women in Kansas City pivoted to other issues and frequently found themselves in contention with the Pendergast organization. The women's suffrage movement and ensuing reform efforts are explored on the Pendergast Years website and in other resources from the Kansas City Public Library and regional partners.

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Tom Pendergast mugshot

When it comes to assessing the trajectory of a political machine such as the one cobbled together over time by first Jim Pendergast, and then by his younger brother “Boss” Tom Pendergast, it is always best to follow the advice of the later Watergate journalists – that is, to “follow the money.” Under Jim, the Pendergast machine seems to have dealt more in dispensing jobs and small favors, with Jim taking a rather small cut of the proceeds. Jim, however, could meet his relatively small personal needs, which included taking care of his bride Mary Doerr (married in 1886) and her young son by a previous marriage. He chose never to live “high on the hog.” Tom, on the other hand, always seemed to need more money, especially after his own marriage to Carolyn Elizabeth Dunn in 1910.

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.