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Finding Aid - Nonpartisan League

State Mill and Elevator construction 1922SHSND B0126-08

In 1915, A.C. Townley created and promoted the Nonpartisan League (NPL), a farmer protest organization seeking more control and better prices for their wheat and other agricultural commodities.  The NPL was designed to remedy what the farmers conceived as an abuse by the railroads and milling industry.  They created a political platform they believed would lower the cost of producing and marketing grain. The NPL controlled the state legislature in 1919.  The state owned Bank of North Dakota and the State Mill and Elevator are two surviving results of the NPL brief rise to power..


10027 John N. Hagan
John N. Hagan was the North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor during the height of the NPL in North Dakota.  His papers contain speeches, information on the party, and newspaper clippings about the NPL and North Dakota.

A.C. Townley. SHSND A5630

10039 Thorwald Mostad
This collection includes letters, newspaper clippings, Nonpartisan League campaign material, membership cards, and a history of the NPL.  Thorwald Mostad served in the North Dakota state senate during the beginning stages of the NPL in 1917-1922.

10083 Theodore Gilbert Nelson
One of the main leaders in the NPL opposition was Theodore Gilbert Nelson.  He was the head of the Independent Voter’s Association.  The Theodore Gilbert Nelson Papers contain information on the struggle for power in North Dakota during 1917-1923 between the NPL and the IVA.

10129 Alfred S. Dale
Alfred S. Dale was an active member of the Nonpartisan League in North Dakota.  His collection contains NPL meeting minutes, newspaper clippings about the NPL, campaign materials, and cartoons from both the NPL and the opposing side.

10377 National Non-Partisan League
The NPL was also a national political movement.  This microfilm collection contains minutes of meetings, letters, speeches, and membership information from the National Nonpartisan League.

10795 Francis B. Daniel
Francis B. Daniel entered the NPL in the 1930s.  His collection contains political materials based on the NPL campaigns, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and correspondence with other NPLers.

11078 North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party
This collection contains materials on the Democratic-NPL Party.  Information from meetings, committees and events, campaigns, and scrapbooks are all included.  The collection contains materials from 1906-2009.

20093 William Roylance
These documents look at the organizations that the Nonpartisan League wanted set up by the state.  The organizations covered are the state mill, elevator, and bank.

20300 Mabelle Williams
Mabelle Williams recalls the times of the Thirties in two manuscripts.  The first, Lest We Forget, is about the times of the Great Depression and the use of the CCC.  The second, The Union of the Non-Partisan League and the Democratic Party, is about the joining of the two political parts in the 1930s.

20463 Adam A. Lefor
Adam Lefor was the state examiner in 1935.  This document is a history and review of the Bank of North Dakota.  Lefor discussed the struggles of the Great Depression on the economics of North Dakota.

20467 Richard Christen
In 1915, the Nonpartisan League began to form.  In this manuscript, Christen interviews four men who were there at the beginning of the movement.  This manuscript covers the origins, ideas, and goals of the NPL in North Dakota.

20532 North Dakota Federation of Non-Partisan Clubs
Nonpartisan Clubs continued after the main movement of the NPL.  This folder contains programs for a women’s club meeting in the 1950s.  It also contains a pamphlet about the views and history of the Non-Partisan League.

20553 National Non-Partisan League, North Dakota Branch
The NPL wanted make sure all speakers knew what to talk about in front of a crowd.  This folder contains information provided to speakers.  It provides propaganda against other political parties of the time.

20572 Larry Remele.
In 1915, the NPL began to emerge in North Dakota politics.  This paper reviews the relationship between the new political movement and the newspapers in the state.  Remele also provides information on the history of the NPL.

21004 H.O. Lee
The H.O. Lee Collection contains letters written by and addressed to Mrs. Lee.  The second letter contains information about the NPL. 


Blackorby, Edward C. "Usher L. Burdick's Early Political Career in North Dakota and the Rise of the Non Partisan League." North Dakota History, Summer 2000: 2-23.
This article describes Usher L. Burdick’s life as a politician.  It also covers Alexander McKenzie’s defeat as the controller of North Dakota politics.  The Nonpartisan League, Populists and Progressives all became key players in North Dakota politics. 

Martinson, Henry R., interview by Robert Carlson. "An Interview with Henry R. Martinson." North Dakota History Vol. 43.2. SHSND, (Spring 1976).
In this interview with Henry R. Martinson, he recalls his time as editor of the Socialist newspaper and as an organizer of the NPL.  He also talks about why the NPL was so successful and appealing to North Dakota. 

The Leader
The NPL of North Dakota began to publish newspapers throughout North Dakota.  This is the Fargo newspaper.  The Leader provides NPL news, cartoons, and other information about the NPL and politics of the time

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