The Social Security Department was established in 1939 with three divisions which operated under the supervision of the Social Security Board. The Social Welfare Division and Public Institutions Division assumed some duties of the State Board of Control (others were assigned to the Adjutant General and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty), the Social Welfare Division assumed duties from the Executive Council, and the Employment and Security Division assumed the administration of the unemployment compensation program from the Industrial Commission.
The board, which was made up of the directors of the three divisions, had rule-making and regulatory authority, and was responsible for coordinating the activities common to all divisions. The director of the social welfare division acted as chairman, and the director of public institutions or his designated agent acted as secretary of the board.
Divisions within the department: Employment and Security Division, 1939-1953; Public Institutions Division, 1939-1953; Social Welfare Division, 1939-1953; State Board of Parole (under the director of social welfare), 1939-1945.
In 1953 the three divisions of the Department of Social Security were split into two functionally aligned agencies. The Employment and Security division became the Department of Employment Security (Laws of Minnesota 1953, chapter 603), while the Social Welfare and Public Institutions divisions were combined to form the Department of Public Welfare (Laws of Minnesota 1953, chapter 593).