Frank Harold Backstrom (1902-1990) Papers (KC0140)
In 1904, the Backstrom family moved from Green Bay, Wisconsin to Kansas City, Missouri, where young Frank attended public school, graduating from Benton Grade School in 1916, and Central High School in 1920. He then attended the University of Michigan from which he graduated with a literary degree in 1924 and earned a law degree in 1926. He was admitted to the Bar in Missouri that year and became a member of the law firm of Swearinger, Olsen, and Backstrom in Kansas City.
Backstrom was interested and active in civic affairs. He served as a member of the Committee of 100 overseeing the Kansas City 10 Year Plan, and participated in various organizations intending to improve the community. He first entered politics by running as the Republican candidate for the 9th District Missouri General Assembly seat in 1932. Not gaining that position, he became active in reform politics in Kansas City and in 1934 was selected to run for the Kansas City 4th District Councilman on the Citizen's Movement or 'Fusion' ticket. The election of 1934 was particularly violent with four persons killed at the polls and a number injured. The 'Fusion' ticket lost all but Backstrom's and one other seat.
The next few years found Backstrom and his few allies on the Council confronting the City Manager, H.F. McElroy, in an attempt to expose and reform the Pendergast machine's control of city government. The 1938 election gave the Machine a sweep of the Council, however, Backstrom was reelected in 1940 with other reform candidates including Mayor John Gage. Backstrom continued to serve on the Kansas City Council until 1951 when he chose not to run again.
At that point, Backstrom determined to change careers. In 1952, L. Perry Cookingham appointed him assistant City Manager of Kansas City. The following year he was hired by the City Council of Tacoma, Washington, as that city's first city manager. In 1956, Backstrom moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he served as City Manager until 1962, when he became the Manager for Toledo, Ohio. Frank Backstrom retired from that office in 1970, and for several years was the executive director of the Masonic Auditorium in Toledo.
These papers are contain miscellaneous materials including campaign literature and other memorabilia; a scrapbook of clippings pertaining to Backstrom's life and political career in Kansas City; and a series of loose clippings, also dealing with Backstrom's life, career and interest in Kansas City political activity. 1923-1984.
3 folders (MICROFORM).
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Monday, February 07, 2011
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