It’s time to break out the secret decoder rings.
The American Protective League (APL) was the brainchild of Chicago businessman Albert M. Briggs. With the country at war, Briggs suggested that the federal government’s undermanned Bureau of Investigation be supplemented by thousands of patriotic citizens who would keep an eye out for any signs of espionage, spies, anarchists, socialist activity, or disloyalty among their fellow Americans. The League operated with the approval of the Department of Justice and at its height had enlisted about 250,000 citizens. In 1918 Attorney General Thomas Gregory claimed that it was “safe to say that never in its history has this nation been so thoroughly policed as at the present time.”
This database contains copies of the APL’s newsletter, Spy Glass. Included are issues 1, 5, 7–12, and 14. The content of the newsletter includes information on laws relating to sedition and espionage, chronicles of trials of those accused of such offenses, information on missing enemy aliens, and articles on APL policies and activities.