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Commission of Public Safety : Primary Sources: Archives & Records

Government Records

Minnesota Commission of Public Safety.
There are many types of records from the Commission of Public Safety in the State Archives.  Please check the library catalog for the full list.

  • Agents' Reports to T.G. Winter, 1917-1919.
    Special agents' or investigators' reports on the alleged subversive activities of various persons, and card index to them.
    MNHS call number: 131.I.6.9B
  • Alien Registration and Declaration of Holdings.
    Forms containing information on aliens residing in Minnesota in February, 1918, who were ordered by the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety to register and make sworn declarations about themselves, other family members, and their property holdings.
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid; Iron Range Research Center Index
  • Americanization Committee Records. 
    This series contains records relating primarily to the establishment or appointment of county and local committees. 
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
  • Americanization Survey Cards, 1919
    Ramsey County only. Demographic data collected during a survey of families residing in St. Paul (including North St. Paul), conducted by the Public Safety Commission’s Woman’s Committee of Ramsey County in preparation for future Americanization work among the foreign-born.
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
  • Child Welfare Survey Cards, 1918
    ​The child welfare survey cards cover St. Paul, Wards 1-12, and record name, address, sex, place of birth, whether birth was registered, age, height, weight, pounds underweight, serious disease or defect, name of examiner, and notes regarding follow-up.
    MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (Minnesota Commission of Public Safety. Woman’s Committee of Ramsey County). 
  • Main Files, 1917-1919. 
    Series of commission correspondence (1917-1919) in subject files—referred to as "rerum files" by commission office staff—relating to all commission activities including (generally) the issuance and enforcement of orders, investigations, and the organization of county and local public safety committees; and (specifically) employment, the draft, patriotic meetings and speakers, publicity, labor problems, liquor and saloons, marketing and sale of food and goods produced, use of foreign languages, forest fire relief, shortages of fuel, food, and fodder, and alleged subversive and anti-American activities. 
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
  • Minutes.
    The minutes (1917-1920) record all actions of the commission, including full texts of orders issued and resolutions adopted, lists of bills allowed for payment, and lists of "communications" received and actions taken on them. There is a three-volume set of official minutes and several folders of draft minutes. In some cases, items recorded on a draft "list of communications received" (with draft minutes) were not recorded in the official minutes.
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
  • Records of County Branches, 1917-1920. 
    Articles of association, minutes, correspondence, circular letters, orders, resolutions, and pamphlets of public safety associations in the following counties: Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Blue Earth, Clay, Cottonwood, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Pennington, Polk, Ramsey, Renville, St. Louis, Todd, and Washington. 
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid 
  • Report of Minnesota Commission of Public Safety. 
    [St. Paul, Minn.: L.F. Dow Co., 1919].
    MNHS call number: D 570.8 .C8 M65 1919
  • Report of Special Committee on German Text Books Used in Public Schools of Minnesota.
    St. Paul, Minn.: [s.n., 1917?].
    MNHS call number: PF 3068 .U5 M55 1917
  • Reports and Publications of the Commission, 1917-1918. 
    Includes Facts About the War, June, 1917; Report of Special Committee on German Text Books Used in Public Schools of Minnesota, Dec., 1917; Mobilizing Minnesota, 1917; Preliminary Report to J. A. A. Burnquist, Dec., 1918?; Report of Minnesota Commission of Public Safety, 1919; Report of Crop and Stock Census, 1917-1918; official orders and resolutions (incomplete; orders and resolutions were also published in the Report); and many other pamphlets and leaflets.
    MNHS call number: 
  • Records of the Committee on Women in Industry, 1918-1919.
    Correspondence and reports relating to the survey of women in industry; committee minutes; general literature, orders, and circulars of the national committee (Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense); and various bulletins and other publications collected or received.
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

  • Farm Crop and Labor Reports, 1918
    Data collected during a statewide farm census conducted by the Public Safety Commission in order to determine the adequacy of Minnesota’s food supply during World War I. There are report forms for individual farms, and for statistical summaries. he report for each farm gives the name and ethnicity of the farmer; kind and acreage of each crop planted, kind and number of livestock raised, and number of silos erected in 1917 and 1918; and information on the need for additional farm labor, including the number, gender, and nationality desired, time period, and for what type of work.
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid


Joseph A.A. Burnquist at his desk

J.A.A. Burnquist Papers.
Papers of Governor Burnquist for the World War I years, 1917-1920, focus on the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety, which was granted broad powers to protect the state and assist in the war effort. There is information on its work and that of the Minnesota Home Guard in surveillance of alleged subversive activities, in mobilizing opposition to labor unions and strikes, in locating draft evaders, in imposing a curfew on saloons and restaurants, in discouraging the use of languages other than English in schools, and in registering and monitoring aliens, as well as criticism of its suppression of political activities and civil liberties.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P448).

William A. Schaper Papers.
Letters, typed copies of newspaper articles, and other materials concerning Schaper's dismissal (1917) by the University of Minnesota board of regents for alleged pro-Germanism and disloyalty to the United States during World War I; Governor Elmer A. Benson's efforts to have the action rescinded (1937); Schaper's exoneration by the regents in 1938 and payment of compensation to him; and public reactions to the case.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P521).

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