Reed, Nell Donnelly

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Kidnapping of Nell Donnelly

Nell Donnelly and her chauffeur, George Blair, were kidnapped on December 16, 1931. Donnelly had become famous after her 1916 founding of the Donnelly Garment Company, which sold stylish but affordable dresses for daily wear by ordinary women. Backed by the sales of “Nelly Don's,” as the dresses became known, the company grew into a multi-million dollar business with over 1,000 employees in the 1920s.

John F. Lazia

Johnny Lazia (born Lazzio) gained prominence in Kansas City's politics during the 1920s and ‘30s due to his leadership of the North Side Democratic Club, engagement in local organized crime, and involvement with Tom Pendergast's political machine. Pendergast dominated Kansas City politics not by holding elected offices, but through his machine of alliances and affiliates.

James Alexander Reed

James Reed was once an outsized figure in Missouri life and politics. An attorney by trade, Reed brought his skills as a shrewd prosecutor to each position he held in state and local government. A loyal ally to those he supported and a bitter enemy to those he disagreed with, Reed was sure to provoke strong responses in all who knew him. And though he was a polarizing figure in his day, often facing severe criticism and opposition, Reed never stopped fighting for what he believed in: a limited federal government, the sovereignty of the states, and individual liberty.

Nell Donnelly Reed

Urged by neighbors, who were wearing her creations, she took a sample to a downtown store. When she delivered 218 finished dresses, they sold out in a few hours. That was the beginning of Donnelly Garment Company which grew to $3.5 million in sales and l,000 employees by 1931

The Bitterest Battle: The ILGWU and Unionization in the Kansas City Garment District

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.

"The Social Evil in Kansas City": Machine Politics and the Red-Light District

In a 1933 interview with journalist Jerome Beatty, Tom Pendergast cast himself as a protector of community values, boldly claiming that his political organization’s work had long been focused on stamping out any instance of vice or immorality in Kansas City: “We won’t have anything to do with helping drug peddlers or prostitutes. We put the whole strength of the organization to work to slug those people. And to slug them hard.”

Nell Q. Donnelly and C. W. Greenwade

Clipping entitled "In the News Again" from the Kansas City Star on March 28, 1932 showing highlights from the Democratic State Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. The photograph's caption states, "Mrs. Nell Q. Donnelly, who beat Baby Lindbergh to the kidnaping spotlight on page 1, is shown exchanging political gossip with C. W. Greenwade, new chairman of the state committee."

Nell Donnelly Reed and Employees

Group portrait of Nell Donnelly Reed and employees at Nelly Don Pioneers group luncheon in Reed's office.

Group Portrait of Donnelly Garment Company Employees

Group portrait of Nell Donnelly Reed and employees at the Nelly Don Pioneers group luncheon in Mrs. Reed's office, June 2, 1937.

Future: Vol. I, No. 22

Issue of the anti-corruption, Kansas City-based newspaper, Future: The Newsweekly for Today. The front page includes an article, continued on page 8, about the apartments on the Country Club Plaza and Armour Boulevard managed by the Assured Rental Company (led by George Goldman and Herman Shapiro), in the city's "South Side," voting against the Pendergast ticket City Council nominees.

Future: Vol. I, No. 11

Issue of the anti-corruption, Kansas City-based newspaper, Future: The Newsweekly for Today. The front page includes an article, continued on page 8, discussing the difficulty of accessing city records for citizens or reporters. Other featured articles include: “Snapshots” (p. 1), with quick items that include Nell Donnelly Reed having been rated fourth in a list of the most prominent business women in the country; “Seven Eleven” (p.

From Frederick E. Whitten to Ewing Young Mitchell, Jr.

Letter from Frederick E. Whitten to Ewing Young Mitchell, Jr. on March 19, 1940. Whitten responds to William Hirth's suggestion that he run for office in the 1940 election.