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Digital Initiatives: Political Prairie Fire Collection

Digital Initiatives department at the North Dakota State Library

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Political Prairie Fire Collection

Political Prairie Fire is a collection dedicated to the Nonpartisan League (NPL) and Independent Voters Association (IVA) era of North Dakota History, circa 1910s-1930s. The collection includes many images, documents, books, and cartoons relating to this era of political strife in North Dakota.

Access this collection (click on the logo to be redirected):

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About the Collection

The Political Prarie Fire collection is meant to serve as a hub for Nonpartisan League (NPL) and Independent Voters Association (IVA) content. Thus, it contains internal content, digitized by the North Dakota State Library that is directly hosted within the collection, as well as external content contributed by other cultural heritage institutions. Links to the external content is provided within the item records, or they are embedded.

The title of the collection is derived from the book Political Prairie Fire: The Nonpartisan League, 1915-1922 by Robert Loren Morlan.

Historical Reference

The Nonpartisan League (NPL), led by A. C. Townley, was born in 1915. The NPL had a progressive platform calling for many reforms, including state-run programs and institutions, which would directly challenge the "Big Business" stranglehold on banking, mills and elevators, railroads, etc.

The NPL had great appeal to many residents of North Dakota (especially farmers), and its membership and influence grew quickly. In 1916, the NPL's gubernatorial candidate, Lynn Frazier, won in a landslide. By 1918, the NPL had snatched many state-elected offices and had majority control of the state legislature. In the 1919 regular and special sessions of the legislature, the NPL began passing and enacting its reforms. Out of the NPL's many reforms, the Bank of North Dakota, State Mill and Elevator, and the Industrial Commission were formed, all of which still exist today.

The Independent Voters Association (IVA), founded in 1918, vehemently opposed the NPL, and its members worked tirelessly to challenge and discredit the NPL. By 1919, the IVA was gaining ground, and the NPL was on the defense and facing controversies and infighting. NPL-affiliated William Langer (Attorney General), Carl Kositzky (State Auditor), and Thomas Hall (Secretary of State) openly criticized the NPL and eventually defected. In 1920, the NPL lost control of one legislative house. In 1921, the IVA successfully held a recall election that deposed all the members of the Industrial Commission: Lynn J. Frazier (Governor), John N. Hagan (Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor), and William Lemke (Attorney General).

Although the NPL's influence had waned, its leaders and programs remained popular. Members, or former members, such as Lynn Frazier, William Langer, and William Lemke, would continue to represent the people of North Dakota at the federal and state levels for many more years.


"PPF" is an abbreviation for Political Prairie Fire. Click on the subcollections listed below to be redirected to Digital Horizons. In some cases, the subcollections may be further organized into select categories.

Browse the Collection

Click on one of the several the links below to browse the Political Prairie Fire collection on Digital Horizons.


Online exhibits from the North Dakota State Library using content and information from the Political Prairie Fire digital collection:


The collection is meant to serve as a hub for Nonpartisan League (NPL) and Independent Voters Association (IVA) content, so it contains both internal and external content. The current list of contributors can be found below. Clicking on the linked names below will redirect you to the institution's item records on Digital Horizons. The external content may either be embedded on Digital Horizons, or a URL will be provided to the item's original repository online.

Collection Guides

Content Warning

Due to the nature and age of certain historical materials, some items within the "North Dakota Memories" collection may include language and/or imagery that depict prejudices, or content that is considered offensive and harmful.

The North Dakota State Library (NDSL) and its partners do not condone any prejudices or harmful content found within this digital collection. They do not reflect the view, mission, values, and policies of NDSL or its partners.

In the interest of historical integrity, understanding, study, and to inspire discussion, NDSL does not intend to permanently block or exclude any text or images in this digital collection. NDSL supports the open access and use of its digital collections and strives to allow users to access and search high-quality representations of the original items. It is NDSL’s responsibility to make its digital collections user-friendly while serving as conscientious stewards of an ever-complicated history.

This content statement is provided to warn users of potentially harmful or offensive material, and to give users the opportunity to decide for themselves if they wish to view the material or not. The intent of a content statement or warning is not to deter users from collections.

For further information, consult the document below.


If you are interested in contributing items to the ND State Library's digital collections, please visit our Donations page for more information.

Further Reading and Resources

Consult these additional resources to learn more about the Nonpartisan League (NPL) and the Independent Voters Association (IVA). The resource list is divided into these sections:

  • Websites
  • Books
  • Articles, Essays, Dissertations, etc.



Articles, Essays, Dissertations, etc.

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Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.