This article focuses on the two national internment programs developed in the United States during World War I from the vantage point of Portland, Oregon, and argues that they unfolded locally. Both the male enemy aliens at risk of internment and the girls and women who experienced confinement due to sexual activity tended to be poor. Authorities deemed that they were, or were likely to become, radicals or prostitutes—but that they were not to be prosecuted as such. Officials could banish or track them more easily as threats to the war effort, rather than as threats to urban social stability and economic development. Scholars of the home front have ignored the evolution of local-federal partnerships to track or intern these two groups and have so far failed to establish how local perceptions of the dangerous poor shaped cooperation with wartime federal authority.
Adam J. Hodges holds a BS from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a PhD from the University of Illinois. He has published articles in Planning Perspectives, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, and Oregon Historical Quarterly. Currently assistant professor of history at the University of Houston—Clear Lake, he is completing a book titled “World War I and Urban Order: The Local Class Politics of Nadonal Mobilization.”
1 The expression “silk stocking girls” taken from morals policewoman Lola G. Baldwin, “Text Report for December 1918: Seventh District,” Lola G. Baldwin's Personal Notes Forwarded to WTD in 1951, Portland Police Historical Society (PPHS), Lola G. Baldwin Papers, “folder 1951.” The author would like to thank Robert Johnston for invaluable advice on the article manuscript. A grant from the University of Houston—Clear Lake facilitated the research.