The American Protective League was established in 1917 as a nationwide volunteer citizens’ organization that served during World War I as a reserve force for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Its principal functions were to secure information about disloyal or enemy activities and to present it to the proper authorities. It also conducted certain investigations for other government agencies and assisted the provost marshal general in locating delinquents under the Selective Service Act. The League, a self-supporting organization, had its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The League terminated its operations on February 1, 1919, at the request of the attorney general, and the records of the headquarters were transferred to the Bureau of Investigation.
This database contains two collections of documents related to the American Protective League. The first is correspondence between the Washington D.C. headquarters of the American Protective League and its field offices in Arkansas, California, Kansas, New York, and North Carolina. The correspondence relates to new and ongoing investigations, rules and procedures, and issuances from the Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement authorities.
The second contains correspondence and reports relating to investigations of enemy aliens, draft evaders, and radicals. Included are cover letters to American Protective League (APL) field offices transmitting requests that investigations be made and cover letters from APL headquarters to the Bureau of Investigation and the Military Intelligence Division transmitting investigative reports. There are few complete reports among these records.