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As Bennie Moten, George E. Lee, and other African American bandleaders based at 18th and Vine pioneered a new style of jazz, a number of white bands in downtown Kansas City were performing a style of hot jazz modeled after nationally popular white bands. Ironically, while Kansas City would gain renown for its great African American bands that barnstormed across country, it was a white dance band, the Coon-Sanders Nighthawk Orchestra, which first established Kansas City’s national reputation as a jazz center.

Chuck Haddix

Pamphlet describing how Pendergast, "King of Kansas City, Emperor of Missouri," and his machine gained power in Kansas City and its role in statewide election fraud.


Telegram from Ewing Young Mitchell, Jr. to judge Casmir J. Welch on March 24, 1932. Mitchell encourages Cas Welch's support of Franklin D. Roosevelt for President.

March 24th 1932

Letter from Kansas City Court of Appeals judge, Ewing C. Bland, to his uncle, Ewing Young, Mitchell, Jr. on March 27, 1932. Bland updates Mitchell on his meeting with James P. Aylward and recounts the individual opinions of Aylward, Thomas J. Pendergast and Cas Welch of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the Democratic nominee for President.

March 27th 1932

Letter from Barney E. Reilly to Ewing Young Mitchell, Jr. on May 13, 1932. Reilly discusses Franklin D. Roosevelt's primary campaign as it relates to Kansas City and northwestern Missouri politics.

May 13th 1932

Letter from C. W. Greenwade to Ewing Young Mitchell, Jr. on November 25, 1932. Greenwade informs Mitchell that Greenwade received an endorsement from Thomas J. Pendergast and Charles M. Howell, but mentions that Bennett C. Clark might block him from the appointment.

November 25th 1932
Coinciding with the rapid expansion of Pendergast’s businesses in the 1920s and 1930s, Tom Pendergast consolidated his political power at the end of 1925 and maintained a firm grip until the late 1930s. He gained almost unchallenged control due to a change in the city government that was, ironically, first proposed by well-meaning reformers including the philanthropist William Volker.
Jason Roe