Public-Private Partnerships during World War I

in New York Undercover

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226266091
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226266114 | DOI:
Public-Private Partnerships during World War I

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World War I arrived on the home front with the proliferation of bombings and the perceived increase in immigrant radicals and anarchists in the New York metropolitan area. Disloyal and disaffected immigrants resorted to bombings to threaten America and its war effort. However, another threat, quieter but perhaps more insidious, roamed the streets of New York City: prostitution. In response, the federal government began to rely more heavily on private organizations to monitor and control political subversion and prostitution. These private organizations conducted undercover investigations of immigrants, prostitutes, radicals, and “slackers” who failed to register for the draft. Private organizations and their undercover investigators teamed up with the federal government in improving policing of the home front, in the hope that they could prevent a national security breach. As a result, the war allowed social activists to expand their reach. This is evident in the case of two New York City-based private organizations: the Committee of Fourteen and the National Civic Federation.

Keywords: World War I; New York City; undercover investigations; private organizations; Committee of Fourteen; National Civic Federation; undercover investigators; political subversion; immigrants; prostitution

Chapter.  13924 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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