Happy Birthday FBI!

Today’s post was compiled by the Special Access and FOIA Program staff at the National Archives at College Park, MD

bright orange all text poster re "the war against spies and saboteurs"
“Warning from the FBI” ca. 1941-1945 (NAID 516039; Local Identifier 44-PA-2313)

In the Special Access and FOIA Program at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, we conduct a review of records for information protected from release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The bulk of our research requests are for Record Group 65, aka the Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, aka the FBI.

In honor of the FBI’s “birthday” of July 26, 1908, the Special Access and FOIA staff share some of our favorite quotes from their records. Enjoy!

cartoon w/Hoover in center surronded by vignettes of FBI agents duties
“Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity” by Mell Graff, 1949 (NAID 518178; Local Identifier 65-HA-12)
  1. “M has been attending San Francisco State College in San Francisco, and he pointed out that while he was there no rocks were thrown and no revolutionary activity took place that he knew of. He stated that he is so disappointed in the revolution that he is considering assuming the role of a middle class American.” (100-SF-451992, Serial 25)
  2. “He said that the time will come when the masses of people will rise up and take their guns and go to the street to overthrow the repressive system. He advised that he would be in the middle of it when it comes. He also stated that he would not hesitate to kill the interviewing Agents. However, he advised that he did not feel he could get away with it at this time. He was assured he could not.” (157-HQ-22861, Serial 17)
  3. “An Independent Socialist Club was also having a picnic at this time, and there was some mutual shouting at each other, which ended up in the RU ‘seizing’ the baseball field from the ISC Trotskyites and challenging them to a baseball game.  During the ball game the RU players urged each other on with quotations from MAO Tse-tung; and at one point when the RU pitcher got in a tight spot, one of the members ran from the sidelines with the little red book, which he and the pitcher then read together, and the pitcher then went on to get himself out of the tight spot. The final score was 34 to 3 in favor of the RU, and once again it was shown that one can do anything armed with the thoughts of MAO Tse-tung.” FBI informant report on a Revolutionary Union (RU) picnic in Oakland, California (100-SF-54915, Serial 290)
Photograph of View of J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building from National Archives Roof, Sept 1974 (NAID 35810560; Local Identifier 64-NA-5556)
  1. “On the morning of January 20, 1939, a tragedy occurred. Insignificant to some, heart breaking to others. Sometimes small things make a large impression on our lives. So it was with ‘killer.’ ‘Killer’ was the diminutive turtle ‘With a Rose on his Back’ which habitated the office of Miss Gandy and was held dear to all employees of the Director’s office. His passing was not unheralded; a fitting period of state and an appropriate funeral were arranged. Miss Gandy extends thanks to all who were of comfort to her in her hour of grief. Miss Hazel Beahm was the pallbearer.”The Investigator, February, 1939 (94-HQ-43615, Serial 308)
  2. “The PCI said that Mafia to him also means a sharing with others a person’s wealth or good fortune even though it might be a forced sharing through extortion or threats.” (100-HQ-42303, Serial 287)
Scrap of Paper – “call me when you’re 31.47% awake. – frank” San Francisco [California] -100-44620 [Classification-Domestic Security], Serial 1A3 (NAID 16488516)
  1. “Call me when you’re 31.47% awake. – Frank” (100-SF-46620, Serial 1A3)
  2. “All the information which she has furnished to FBI Headquarters…was obtained by her and her daughter…by use of a ouija board, which mystically spells out words when questions are asked of it….Mrs. Harney’s letter to the Bureau was orally acknowledged and she was asked not to furnish additional letters to the Bureau based on information she obtains from her ouija board.” (44-HQ-38861, Serial 3148)
cartoon with giant fist punching a man wearing a shirt with CRIME on it
“22, 23, 24, 25, and one NOT to grow on!” by Vic Vac presented to the FBI in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of J. Edgar Hoover as Director of the Bureau, 1949 (NAID 518178; Local Identifier 65-HA-6)
  1. “The following excerpt was taken from a letter written by a small boy who is ambitious to become a Special Agent: ‘Dear Sir, ….I have read Detective stories, heard them on the radio, saw G-men picture, and played G-MAN. What ever happens I am on the Law’s side. When I grow up, if I am not short, ugly and everything, I am going to be a G-Man. Write back to me. At is all I have to say but Goodby.’”The Investigator, February, 1936 (94-HQ-43615, Serial 308)
  2. “Q: Do you remember who the dynamite belongs to?
    • A: No.
    • Q: Did you ever have problems with dynamite before?
    • A: Yes, I’m pretty careless with it.” (44-HQ-33870, Serial 19)
  3. “The criminal’s chances are practically nil  —  if his face doesn’t get him his fingerprints will.”The Investigator, Labor Day 1932 (94-HQ-43615, Serial 308)

Thank you to the Special Access and FOIA staff for submitting quotes and the Still Pictures staff for providing images.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *