Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI]


(Record Group 65)
1896-1996

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 65.1 Administrative History
  • 65.2 General Records of the FBI 1907-93
    • 65.2.1 Records of the Office of the FBI Director and its predecessors
    • 65.2.2 Investigative records
    • 65.2.3 Other records
  • 65.3 Records of the Bureau of Criminal Identification 1896-1924
  • 65.4 Records of the National Bureau of Criminal Identification (NBCI), International Association of Chiefs of Police 1897-1924
  • 65.5 Records of the American Protective League (APL) 1917-19
  • 65.6 Motion Pictures (General) 1936, 1960-86
  • 65.7 Video Recordings (General) 1960-93
  • 65.8 Sound Recordings (General) 1948-93
  • 65.9 Machine-Readable Records (General)
  • 65.10 Still Pictures (General) 1900-96
65.1 Administrative History

Established: In the Department of Justice (DOJ), by an act of March 22, 1935 (49 Stat. 77).

Predecessor Agencies:

In the Department of Justice:

Chief Examiner (1907-9)

  • Bureau of Investigation (BOI, 1909-34)
  • Bureau of Prohibition (investigative functions, 1930-34)
  • Division of Investigation (1934-35)

Bureau of Criminal Identification, Superintendent of Prisons (1907-24)

Functions: Enforces federal laws and investigates violations. Operates a technical laboratory and a national police academy. Gathers, classifies, preserves, and exchanges criminal identification records.

Finding Aids: Marion M. Johnson, "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," NC 82 (1964); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Related Records:
Record copies of publications of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
General Records of the Department of Justice, RG 60.
Records of the Bureau of Prisons, RG 129.

Top of Page

65.2 General Records of the FBI
1907-93

History: Chief Examiner appointed for DOJ by the Attorney General, October 1, 1907, with responsibility pursuant to departmental order of July 26, 1908, for all DOJ investigations. Chief Examiner investigative organization redesignated Bureau of Investigation (BOI), March 16, 1909, under authority of DOJ Appropriation Act (35 Stat. 237), May 22, 1908. Division of Identification established within BOI, July 1, 1924, to maintain the collection of criminal records received from the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, KS. BOI acquired functions and records of Bureau of Criminal Identification, Superintendent of Prisons, 1924 (See 65.3). Division of Investigation created, effective March 2, 1934, by EO 6166, June 10, 1933, consolidating functions of abolished BOI with investigative functions of Bureau of Prohibition, which had been established in DOJ by the Prohibition Reorganization Act of 1930 (46 Stat. 427), May 27, 1930. Division of Investigation redesignated FBI, 1935. See 65.1.

Top of Page

65.2.1 Records of the Office of the FBI Director and its
predecessors

Textual Records: Letters sent by the Chief Examiner and the BOI Chief, 1907-11. Letters sent by the Attorney General relating to BOI affairs, 1910-12. Correspondence with special agents, 1908- 10. Reports of the Chief Examiner and BOI Chief to the Attorney General concerning special agents, 1908-10; and concerning cases, 1908-11, with index. Applications for appointment as special agent, 1917-18. Numbered correspondence relating mainly to U.S.- German commercial relations, ca. 1914-17, with index. Subject file, 1914-17. FBI annual reports, 1921-51, with index. Records pertaining to the career of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, including scrapbooks containing memorabilia, 1913-72; and a file of congratulatory letters to Hoover, 1924-71.

Top of Page

65.2.2 Investigative records

Textual Records: Microfilm copies of the following investigative records: general records ("Miscellaneous Files"), ca. 1908-22 (145 rolls), with index (111 rolls); records concerning violations of Mexican neutrality ("Mexican Files"), 1909-21 (24 rolls); records concerning German enemy aliens, German sympathizers, and other individuals suspected of disloyalty, mainly during World War I ("Old German Files"), 1915-20 (595 rolls); and records transferred from the Department of Justice ("Bureau Section Files"), 1920-21 (81 rolls). Correspondence of members of a German-American employment agency ("Correspondence of Hans Liebau and Others"), 1915, apparently seized by the BOI in connection with an investigation. Check stubs of the General Shipbuilding and Aero Company, Inc., 1917-18. Case files on Japanese, Mexican, and radical matters, 1919-20. Selected headquarters and field office case files ("Classified Subject Files"), ca. 1921-90, with indexes, on the following subjects: National Training Academy matters (Class 1); theft from interstate shipping (Class 15); Federal building sites and identification-fingerprint matters (Class 32); deserters and deserter harboring (Class 42); civil rights (Class 44); treason (Class 61); interstate transportation of stolen property (Class 87); unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (Class 88); bank robberies (Class 91); laboratory examinations (Class 95); domestic security (Class 100), including records relating to Frank Wilkinson and the National Committee against Repressive Legislation, 1942-76; antiriot investigations (Class 176); and foreign counterintelligence and terrorism (Class 199), including records concerning the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) and related organizations and individuals ("CISPES Spin-Offs"), 1981-90. Case files of various classes relating to FBI activities during World War II, ca. 1940- 47, with index. Write-ups on significant or interesting cases, 1932-72, with index. Records relating to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963-77. Records relating to Julius Wilson Hobson and others, 1941-77. Selected records relating to the FBI investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1963-93 (396 ft.), administered by the National Archives as part of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection (See 272.1 Note).

Microfilm Publications: M1085.

Specific Restrictions: As specified by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, investigative records relating to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are under seal until January 2027.

Sound Recordings: Accompanying the investigative records relating to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., described above, 1963-77 (83 items). Accompanying the investigative records relating to Julius Wilson Hobson and others, described above, 1967-69 (6 items). Accompanying the investigative records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, described above, 1964, 1975 (23 items).See Also 65.8.

Specific Restrictions: See above for Specific Restrictions applying to records concerning Dr. King.

Machine-Readable Records: Data relating to CISPES, consisting of Major Investigative Data Base (MIDB, 6 data sets), and Terrorist Information System (TIS, 14 data sets), 1981-90; both with supporting documentation.

Top of Page

65.2.3 Other records

Textual Records: Reference file of publications, maintained by the Crime Records Division, 1925-72. Reports concerning the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, 1930-52.

Top of Page

65.3 Records of the Bureau of Criminal Identification
1896-1924

History: Established under the Superintendent of Prisons, DOJ, 1907, to serve as a clearinghouse for the exchange of records relating to known criminals. Abolished, 1924, with functions and records transferred to the BOI. See 65.2.

Textual Records: Sample Bertillon criminal identification cards, 1896-1924. Registers of fingerprint characteristics of persons confined in federal, state, and local prisons, ca. 1905-16, with index. Miscellaneous records relating to criminal identification, 1911-24.

Top of Page

65.4 Records of the National Bureau of Criminal Identification
(NBCI), International Association of Chiefs of Police
1897-1924

History: Bureau for purpose of compiling Bertillon records established in Chicago, IL, 1896, by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a group of law enforcement agencies. Bureau subsequently removed to Washington, DC, and was designated NBCI. Justice Department accepted custody of NBCI's collection of criminal investigation records, 1924, and deposited the collection with the Division of Identification, BOI. SEE 65.2.

Textual Records: Letters sent and received by NBCI officials, 1897-1924. Foreign language criminology pamphlets, 1906-21. Published album of photographs of criminals, 1906.

Photographs (319 images): Mounted photographs of criminals, with Bertillon measurements, 1898-1910. See Also 65.10.

Top of Page

65.5 Records of the American Protective League (APL)
1917-19

History: APL, a nationwide volunteer organization established March 22, 1917, provided information to BOI concerning disloyal persons, conducted investigations for other federal agencies, and assisted in locating delinquents under the Selective Service Act. Dissolved at the Attorney General's request, February 1, 1919, with records of its national headquarters transferred to BOI. SEE 65.2.

Textual Records: Correspondence with field offices in AR, CA, KS, NY (including New York City), and NC, 1917-19. Partial file of requests for investigations, 1918-19. Registers of members, 1918- 19, and samples of record cards of badge-holding members, 1917- 19. APL newsletter, The Spy Glass, June 4, 1918-January 15, 1919.

Top of Page

65.6 Motion Pictures (General)
1936, 1960-86

FBI film, You Can't Get Away With It, 1936 (3 reels). Instructional films acquired or produced by the FBI Training Academy, Quantico, VA, 1960-86 (87 reels).

Top of Page

65.7 Video Recordings (General)
1960-93

Acquired or produced by the FBI Training Academy for instructional use, 1960-86 (10 items). Speeches by FBI Director William H. Webster, 1981-86 (4 items). Interviews, lectures, and network television appearances by FBI Director Webster, other high FBI officials, and notable individuals from the political, military, and entertainment fields, 1978-86 (12 items). Speeches by FBI Director William S. Sessions, 1987-93 (35 items).

Top of Page

65.8 Sound Recordings (General)
1948-93

Speeches, conferences, radio and television appearances, Congressional testimony, and awards ceremonies, featuring FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and other high FBI officials, 1948-85 (101 items). Speeches by FBI Directors William H. Webster, 1979- 86 (179 items); and William S. Sessions, 1987-93 (283 items).

See Under 65.2.2.

Top of Page

65.9 Machine-Readable Records (General)

See Under 65.2.2.

Top of Page

65.10 Still Pictures (General)
1900-96

Photographs : Accumulated by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, documenting his life and career, ca. 1900-72 (HC, HCA; 8,600 images). Relating to various criminal cases involving FBI action, 1940's-1983 (CC, 1,466 images). FBI awards and ceremonial events, 1940's-1989 (CA, 1,209 images). Conducted tours of the FBI Building, Washington, DC, 1982-83 (TR, 85 images). FBI Training Academy, Quantico, VA, 1982-83 (QT, 368 images). FBI Laboratory in the Department of Justice Building, FBI National Information Center, and FBI Training Academy, 1950's-1980 (LAB, 1,057 images). "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives," 1992-96 (TMW, 46 images).

Slides: History of the FBI (1908-82), compiled for a program in honor of the FBI's 75th anniversary, 1982-83 (AN, 289 images). Watergate investigation, 1973-74 (WM, 64 images).

Color Slides: Construction and use of various incendiary devices, 1973 (ID, 209 images).

Cartoons: Original cartoons relating to the FBI, including drawings by Herblock (Herbert Block), Rube Goldberg, Charles Schulz, Ding Darling, Hy Rosen, and Enright, 1934-72 (H, HM; 863 images). Album of original cartoons commemorating J. Edgar Hoover's 25th anniversary as FBI director, 1949 (HA, 14 images).

Posters: Produced by the FBI Crime Resistance Section, promoting crime prevention and safety measures, ca. 1984 (P, 8 images).

See Photographs Under 65.4.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


Top of Page

Guide to Federal Records >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

.