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New York UndercoverPrivate Surveillance in the Progressive Era$
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Jennifer Fronc

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226266091

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226266114.001.0001

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(p.177) Epilogue
New York Undercover
University of Chicago Press

In New York City, the excesses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to a decline in public confidence in private detective agencies and municipal police departments. Social activist organizations were forced to reject professional detectives and instead relied on undercover investigators, a mode of investigative social activism that reached its apotheosis during the war years. Private organizations such as the Committee of Fourteen and the People's Institute, teamed up with government agencies on a variety of projects, from policing moral conditions around military encampments, to monitoring domestic political subversion, and assisting immigrants in their transition to their new country. After World War I, however, social activists largely lost their power to define the direction of subsequent policing and measures of social change. The federal government formalized and professionalized policies and procedures in other sectors such as the intelligence agencies. With the rise of a stronger Federal Bureau of Investigation, the prestige and power of social activists slipped dramatically.

Keywords:   New York City, social activists, undercover investigators, private organizations, Committee of Fourteen, People's Institute, Federal Bureau of Investigation, intelligence agencies, policing, social change

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