Kansas City Women Versus Tom Pendergast | KCUR

Kansas City Women Versus Tom Pendergast

Jul 17, 2014

Former Kansas City, Missouri mayor Kay Barnes
Credit MId-America glcc

In the 1920s and '30s, Kansas City was defined by the corruption of the political machine run by “Boss” Tom Pendergast. But the machine finally was brought down, in no small part through the efforts of reform-minded women.

Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes tells the story of these “civic housekeepers” whose fight came to a dramatic conclusion with the ballot-box victories of 1940, Pendergast’s imprisonment in the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, and the smashing of machine-mob rule.


  • 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.

HEAR MORE: Kay Barnes presents Civic Housekeepers: Kansas City Women v. Pendergast at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 20, at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.  To reserve a seat go to kclibrary.org.