Flag of the FBI
Flag of the FBI


For context, see AP Government, The Role of Institutions in the Enactment of Policy

See also United States History II.24 on the roots of domestic anticommunism and the consequences of McCarthyism


The FBI: A Brief History from the Federal Bureau of Investigation


See also FBI History from Syracuse University
primary_sources.PNGFBI Records: The Vault

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here to see a detailed timeline of the FBI's history, provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation itself.

Multimedia.pngTo watch a video providing a brief overview of the history of the FBI, click here.

FBI Surveillance of African American Writers
The F B Eye Blues, a poem by Richard Wright

book.pngF. B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature. William J. Maxwell. Princeton University Press, 2015


Early Background
  • The agency was created by executive order on July 26, 1908 by Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte (grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte's brother) as a special detective force within the Department of Justice.
    • It was called the Bureau of Investigation and was charged with enforcement of the Mann Act
      • Agents were involved in the Palmer Raids in 1919 that were part of the First Red Scare period in American politics
          • J. Edgar Hoover became director in 1924
            • The agency was re-named the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935.

J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover, 1961
J. Edgar Hoover, 1961

  • One of the most controversial figures in both FBI history and American politics, J. Edgar Hoover was the FBI's first and longest tenured director, serving from 1924 to 1972.
  • Hoover's actions as director launched the Bureau of Investigation from a minor policing force to an integral part of the national government and an beacon of freedom in the face of crises such World War II, the Cold War, conflicts with criminals such as John Dillinger and George "Machine Gun" Kelly, and more.
  • Hoover collected files on perceived criminals, political adversaries, and even celebrities and presidents alike in the interest of "national security", forcing both the FBI and himself into the realm of American politics.

For more information on the life and accomplishments of J. Edgar Hoover, click here.
To see a trailer for the biographical film J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, click here.


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The Palmer Raids

primary_sources.PNGReds and Americans from America in Class, National Humanities Center

For more see, United States History II.10


Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963


The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.

See an overview from Matin Luther King, Jr. and the Global Struggle for Freedom Encyclopedia from The King Center, Stanford University

The FBI vs. Martin Luther King: Inside J. Edgar Hoover's Suicide Letter to Civil Rights Leader, from Democracy Now news network

Click here to read about the relationship between the FBI and the Civil Rights Movement under President John F. Kennedy.

For information on the complex relationship and dislike that existed between J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI's most popular and controversial director, and Martin Luther King Jr., click here.

For more on the Civil Rights Movement, see United States History II.25



2016 campaign sticker
2016 campaign sticker

Image result for james comey
Image result for james comey

Hillary Clinton e-Mail Investigation (2016)


This is Not the First Time the FBI Has Interfered with a Presidential Election, The Nation Magazine (October 31, 2016)

Why Did Trump Fire Comey? FiveThirtyEight (May 9, 2017)


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The Osage Murders


book.pngKillers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. David Grann