Nell Donnelly (Reed) was a famous Kansas City resident and business owner who was taken for ransom during the Great Depression. Nell was a badass business woman, but she had a few scandalous secrets that came to light following her kidnapping.

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  • Blodgett, Betsy. “Nelly Don: Self Made in America.” Seamwork, Colette Media, LLC, 2021,
  • Harper, Kimberly. “Nell Donnelly Reed (1889-1991).” Nell Donnelly Reed, The State Historical Society of Missouri, 2021,
  • Hulston, Nancy J. “Biography of James Alexander Reed (1861-1944), Attorney and Politician.” KC History, The Kansas City Public Library, 1999,
  • Magerl, Barbara. “Biography of Nell Donnelly Reed (1889-1991), Dress Manufacturer.” KC History, The Kansas City Public Library, 1999,
  • “Missouri Life.” The University of Missouri – St. Louis, St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, 2021,
  • “Nell Donnelly Marries James A. Reed.” The Pendergast Years, The Kansas City Public Library, 13 Dec. 1933,
  • Rhiannon. “The ‘Business Model’ of Depression Era Kidnappings.” Medium, Internet Archaeology, 5 Jan. 2021,
  • Roe, Jason. “Strange Bedfellows.” KC History, The Kansas City Public Library, 2013,
  • Stillwell, Ted W. “Portraits of the Past: The Nelly Don Kidnapping Sensation.” The Leavenworth Times, USA Today Network, 31 July 2014,
  • Wilson, Tracy V, and Holly Frey. “Nell Donnelly Reed.” Podgist, Podgist, 21 Dec. 2020,
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About the Author
Sarah Duncan is a lean manufacturing coach for a pharmaceutical company. Her ADD combined with excessive creative energy have led to many outlandish pursuits and activities over the years, including 20+ years as a dancer and choreographer, a brief stint competing in sprint triathlons, and performing in the Raleigh musical theater scene. For years, Sarah has been fascinated with how romance and passion have frequently changed the course of history. Salacious History evolved out of Sarah’s love of history, pop culture, and podcasting.

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