Organized in Chicago, IL in 1917 by citizens who believed the United States Department of Justice was understaffed and not up to the task of fighting against espionage. They grew to a volunteer force of more than 250,000 members. The APL was given absolute power to stop ordinary citizens in the streets by checking whether men were legally registered for draft, or were sympathetic to the Germans, or those unregistered aliens living in the United States. Long believed to be a pseudo-patriotic organization. The APL documented both members and their activities in rich genealogical and historical details at the time the United States entered World War I.