Skip To Content

    This Is What The FBI Looked Like In The '30s And '40s

    Guns, gigantic file rooms, and Shirley Temple was a frequent visitor.

    In 1930, two agents work in the fingerprinting division.

    Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

    The identification division of the FBI in 1935.

    MPI/Getty Images

    J. Edgar Hoover in 1936, inspecting weapons.

    NY Daily News via Getty Images

    Here in 1937, J. Edgar Hoover is apparently being made a member of the Shirley Temple Police Force.

    AFP/Getty Images

    1938: J. Edgar Hoover being the man.

    NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

    J. Edgar Hoover shows Shirley Temple around the office in 1938. They were apparently great lifelong friends.

    Thomas D. Mcavoy//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

    Too cute: J. Edgar and Miss Temple.

    Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

    On her visit to the bureau, J. Edgar Hoover also showed Shirley Temple how to ride a mechanical horse!

    Thomas D. Mcavoy/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

    1941: An agent shows how a hidden message can be revealed with ultraviolet light.

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    1941: We see how sometimes messages can be hidden within the lining of an envelope.

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Also from the same 1941 series, an agent decodes a message using the anagram encryption method. Straight up DaVinci Code style.

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    The result of a 1942 FBI raid on the homes of enemy aliens. Holy.

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Hiding microfilm in a wristwatch in 1941. Sneaky.

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Also in 1941, here an agent uses a razor blade to cut microprints from a strip of microfilm.

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    An agent listens to a message being transfered via radio (1941).

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    The door to the Puerto Rican branch of the FBI in 1942.

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Female clerks working away in the file room in 1943.

    Getty Images/Time & Life Pictures Creative

    The large file room at the FBI headquarters in 1943.

    Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Nostalgia Trip

    Take a trip down memory lane that’ll make you feel nostalgia AF

    Newsletter signup form