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FBI Celebrating a Century

Our 100th Year
Celebrating a Century


Collage of FBI agents and memorabiliaOn Thursday, we turned 99 years old and began our 100th year of protecting the nation through our investigations, intelligence work, and law enforcement services.

You might think we got our start battling gangsters in the ‘20s and ‘30s and that J. Edgar Hoover was our first director. But we actually trace our beginnings to a forward-thinking attorney general named Charles Bonaparte in the early 20th century.

His story. Bonaparte had been tasked by President Teddy Roosevelt to help battle a growing wave of crime and corruption that was often beyond the jurisdictional reach of state and local authorities. But Bonaparte couldn’t so much as launch a case without hiring a detective or borrowing an investigator from another agency. What he needed, he realized, was his own band of investigators.

And so on July 26, 1908, he ordered the creation of a “regular force of special agents” to conduct investigations for the Department of Justice and the Executive Branch. There were 34 investigators in all—nine newly hired detectives, 13 civil rights investigators, and a dozen accountants—reporting to his chief examiner Stanley Finch.

It was an inauspicious start, to say the least. Bonaparte had no idea whether his creation would meet the Department’s needs or be embraced by Congress and the American people. He was so unsure that he didn’t even give this force a name.

Bonaparte need not have worried. Within two years, Congress had substantially increased the new agency’s resources, personnel, and authority. And it had a name—the Bureau of Investigation. In 1935 it was officially named the “FBI.”

Today, the FBI is recognized worldwide as a premier law enforcement and intelligence agency. It has grown from 34 special agents to more than 30,000 agents and other professionals working around the world. Throughout the past century, the Bureau has successfully adapted to meet the threat at hand—from gangsters to spies…from mobsters to serial killers…from white-collar criminals to terrorists and cyber villains.

Over the course of the coming year, we will celebrate our 100th year on this website with some new and improved features.

Today, for example, we’re launching a redesigned History webpage that includes a “This Week In FBI History” area highlighting key moments in our past.

In the coming months, we’ll also:

The FBI will also be hosting commemorative activities at offices around the country over the coming year. We’ll keep you posted as the year goes on.