Before Cookingham: Kansas City Women v. Pendergast

Posted on July 26, 2014

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Former mayor Barnes highlights women’s fight against Pendergast machine


Hat tip to Rick Usher, Kansas City (MO) assistant city manager, for sharing the story  of women who worked to bring down “Boss” Tom Pendergast’s political machine in the late 1930s and early ’40s, helping to end 20 years of mob rule in the city.

Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes outlines the story in “Civic Housekeepers and More: Kansas City Women v. Pendergast” during an event at the Kansas City Public Library.

Kay Barnes served two terms (1997-2007) as the first woman mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. She was also one of the first two women on the Jackson County Legislature and was elected to the Kansas City City Council in 1979. Barnes currently serves on the graduate faculty at Park University’s Hauptmann School of Public Affairs.


L.P Cookingham would follow the Pendergast year’s when a new city council hired Cookingham to reform Kansas City’s administration.

ELGL and SGR are highlighting each of Cookingham’s 22 guideposts in the ongoing series, “The Cookingham Connection.

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