Skip to main content

Leon M. Jordan Collection

Identifier: MS-0042

Scope and Contents

The Leon M. Jordan Collection was purchased by LaBudde Special Collections from Brian Thurn Antiques of Kansas City, who acquired the material from Phillip Banks. The collection consists of material belonging to Kansas City police detective and political leader Leon Mercer Jordan and his wife, Orchid Irene Ramsey Jordan; and ranges in date from the 1910s to the 1980s. Much of the collection focuses on their experiences in Liberia, Africa, where Mr. Jordan spent time training the national police force there from the late 1940s through the mid 1950s before returning to Kansas City to start a political career.

The collection was acquired in two parts: January 2006 and May 2006. Material was consolidated into one physical grouping to simplify access and retrieval.

The bulk of the first acquisition is comprised of photographs, much of which highlight activity in Liberia. Other images, spanning circa 1910s-1980s, include travels to Europe, as well as personal and professional subject matter stateside. Also in this acquisition are miscellaneous travel documents and ephemera from West Africa and Europe, high school and college documents and ephemera, postcards, a marriage certificate, a scrapbook, publications and newspaper clippings, awards, memorabilia, and miscellaneous items related to professional and political work in Kansas City.

The second acquisition dates from 1946 through 1952, but primarily documents the Jordans in Liberia from 1948 through 1951, as well as a hiatus stateside in 1950. The heart of the material is correspondence, invitations and programs to social and dignitary functions in Liberia; as well as newspaper clippings and various runs of Liberian publications. Also in this acquisition are additional travel ephemera, postcards and photographs; business cards and name cards; and other miscellaneous items.

Leon Jordan Biography by Dr. Robert M. Farnsworth

Lettered Addenda (A-C) are a planned supplement to the collection to include UMKC Professor Emeritus of English Dr. Robert M. Farnsworth's research and writings about the life and career of Jordan. The material gathered and used by Dr. Farnsworth provides background on Jordan missing from the core collection, particularly his family history, career in Kansas City, and the investigation into his 1970 murder. Dr. Farnsworth's sustained activism for the collection and its namesake revived community interest in Jordan's legacy, culminating in the reopening and solving by local authorities of the 40-year-old cold case. Addendum A consists of manuscript drafts of a Leon Jordan biography by Dr. Farnsworth. Addendum B consists of Dr. Farnsworth’s research files used for the Jordan biography. Addendum C consists of court documents and law enforcement files related to the Jordan murder investigation, including deposition transcripts, FBI files and Kansas City Police Department files.

Numbered Addenda (1-12) track the individual additions to the core collection and those that formed the lettered addenda. Provenance of these additions are as follows:

Addendum 1: gift of Dr. Robert M. Farnsworth, courtesy Errol and Vesta Warren (son and daughter-in-law of Clifford Warren, Jordan’s detective partner in the Kansas City Police Department), September 2007

Addendum 2: gift of Farnsworth, courtesy Doug Shafer (real estate broker), Fall 2008

Addendum 3: gift of Farnsworth, courtesy James W. Humphrey (Prosecuting Attorney for the James Willis and Maynard Cooper cases), May 26, 2009

Addendum 4: purchase from Dolores Hobley (Waldo Antique Mall and Flea Market in Kansas City), June 2009

Addendum 5: gift of Farnsworth, July 2009

Addendum 6: gift of Farnsworth, November 2009

Addendum 7: gift of Farnsworth, January 20, 2010

Addendum 8: courtesy Kansas City Police Department (arranged between Stuart Hinds, LaBudde Special Collections, and William Martin, Cold Case Squad), August 2010

Addendum 9: courtesy Kansas City Police Department (arranged among Hinds, Farnsworth, and Mike McGraw, of the Kansas City Star), November 2011

Addendum 10: gift of Farnsworth, Summer 2012

Addendum 11: gift of Farnsworth, February 2015

Addendum 12: transfer from LaBudde Special Collections’ Vertical (Research) File Collection


  • 1910s - 2015


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status is unknown


14 Linear Feet (LaBudde: 5 Manuscript Boxes, 16 Photograph Boxes, 8 Addendum Boxes.)

Language of Materials


LaBudde: Kelly McEniry, Scott Gipson, Robert C. Ray (supervising archivist); Addendums: McEniry, Stuart Hinds (supervising archivist).
LaBudde: January-June 2006. Addendums: 2007-2015.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Special Collections and Archives Repository