National Archives at Kansas City

Press Release: March 9, 2012

National Archives at Kansas City

National Archives to Host Author Terence O’Malley for Crime in the 1930s Speaker Series

For More Information Contact:
Kimberlee Ried, 816-268-8072

Kansas City, (MO)…The National Archives at Kansas City will host Terence O"Malley on Thursday March 22, at 6:30 p.m. for a lecture titled The Other Side of Crime: The Pendergast Machine in the 1930s. O’Malley is the author and director of Black Hand Strawman: The History of Organized Crime in Kansas City.

A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the event. Attendees are encouraged to view the "They’re Not Going to Get Me:" Crime in the 1930s exhibition prior to the lecture.

From 1926 to 1939, Kansas City's Pendergast Political Machine controlled city and county government, erecting a modern art deco city, and paving hundreds of miles of roads while at the same time perpetrating elections fraud and tax evasion. Pendergast and his allies profited from government contracts with $11 million dollars unaccounted from Federal largesse doled out by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal program. The Machine began relying on organized crime to participate in solving major crimes and to enforce a code made known to criminals that Kansas City was a safe city to lay low in so long as one did not perpetrate major criminal acts in the city or county. Kansas City was part of what J. Edgar Hoover called the "Corridor of Crime," a swath from Texas to the upper Midwest where rural roads offered fast get-aways and where many little towns had small banks that were easy pickings for those with the inclination to rob them. O'Malley will intersperse his presentation with clips from his films and will include discussion about Pretty Boy Floyd, Harvey Bailey, Verne Miller, and other notorious characters and how they used Kansas City as their choice of respite from professional crime.

For more information or to make a reservation for this free event call 816-268-8010 or email

About the speaker

Terence O’Malley was born and raised in Kansas City and holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Loyola University, a masters in film from the University of Kansas, and a juris doctorate from Washburn University. He is a former television reporter and anchorman for the Alaska Television Network; a former deputy press secretary to the governor of Alaska, and former press secretary to the Alaska House of Representatives. In addition to his Black Hand Strawman film and book, he is the director of the documentary film and author of the book Nelly Don: A Stitch in Time about Kansas City dress designer and manufacturer Nell Donnelly Reed. He is currently producing a film titled Tom & Harry: The Boss and the President which focuses on the relationship between Harry Truman and Boss Tom Pendergast.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 13 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by Federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For more information, call 816-268-8000, email or visit

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