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.

Featured Article

Through the Woman’s City Club, Women’s Forward Kansas City Committee, and other civic organizations, women in Kansas City exemplified the principles of benevolence, reform, and equality in their campaign to oppose the Pendergast machine and eventually replace it in a “clean sweep.” Wielding brooms as potent props symbolizing the clean-up of corruption, and with the campaign slogan, "Ballots and Brooms vs. Bosses and Bullets," the women reformers joined the United Campaign Committee in 1939-1940 to champion an amended city charter and a slate of reform-minded candidates for public office.

News Clip Women Join Protests
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.