John Bailey Gage (1887-1970) Papers (KC254)
John Gage, the son of John C. and Ida Bailey Gage, was born on the family's farm near Kansas City, Missouri. His father, a lawyer and a Union Democrat, served as city attorney during the Civil War and later was elected to the Missouri Legislature.
After graduating from the University of Kansas in 1907, Gage began working in his father's law firm by day, and attending night classes at the Kansas City School of Law. Two years later, Gage graduated cum laude and after a few years of practice, returned to the Law School to teach courses for more than twenty years. Gage chose to practice with another young lawyer, George Richardson, rather than joining his father's prestigious law firm. In 1930, he established a new firm which became Gage, Hodges, Kreamer, and Varner.
Beyond his work in Kansas City, Gage served as the head of the administrative law section of the American Bar Association. In the spring of 1940, Gage won the office of Mayor of Kansas City on the reform ticket, and was re-elected in 1942 and 1946. During his terms, Gage set up business-like procedures for the virtually bankrupt city he inherited from the Pendergast Machine, replaced the patronage system with a merit system founded upon exams for all city employees, and improved the financial base of the city by twenty million dollars.
After leaving the mayor's office in 1946, Gage firmly withdrew himself from further elective office to resume his career as a lawyer, but was still active as a civic leader. Known nationally as a cattle breeder and lifelong farmer, Gage served as the president of the American Shorthorn Breeders Association, the American Milking Shorthorn Society, and the Saddle and Sirloin Club. He also was president and guiding spirit for the American Royal. Gage was noted for his long and creative leadership in establishing flood control and reservoir programs to stop floods he had seen devastate Kansas City. Gage also served many years as a regional vice-president of the National Municipal League, a citizens group furthering good local government. As a vice chairman of the Executive Committee of the Midwest Research Institute in 1949-1956, Gage provided the active leadership necessary to develop the fledgling institute.
These papers consist of the correspondence of John B. Gage, relating mainly to the Midwest Research Institution (MRI). Many letters have attachments, most of which are the agendas and the minutes of the meetings of the MRI's Executive Committee of the Board of Governors, income and expenses, and a variety of reports. 1949-1954
© WHMC-KC, University of Missouri
updated: Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Kansas City
(816) 235-1543 WHMCKC@umkc.edu