The 'enemies among us' in World War I Minnesota

Soldiers of the US Army 308th Infantry march up New York's Fifth Avenue
In this 1919 photo, soldiers of the US Army 308th Infantry march up New York's Fifth Avenue just past the Arch of Victory during spring of 1919.
AP file photo

On the centennial of America's entry into World War I, historian Annette Atkins explores the social context for World War I, a time when Minnesotans cast a suspicious eye on immigrants who might be disloyal. It's a story of fear, and a story of "us vs. them," from a hundred years ago.

The Minnesota Commission of Public Safety operated during World War I. It's a fascinating story about fear, politics, liquor and Minnesotans who were called "foreign-born civic slackers."

Annette Atkins is a retired professor of history at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict. She spoke January 18, 2014 at the Minnesota Historical Society's History Forum.

To listen to her speech, click the audio player above.

Further reading

• Veterans: From shell-shock to PTSD, a century of invisible war trauma

• In another time of war: Minnesota suspended civil liberties

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