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FBI History
 
Directors: Then and Now

Photograph of William J. Burns
WILLIAM J. BURNS

Director
August 22, 1921 - June 14, 1924

William J. Burns was born around 1860 in Baltimore, Maryland, and educated in Columbus, Ohio. As a young man, Mr. Burns performed well as a Secret Service Agent and parleyed his reputation into the William J. Burns International Detective Agency. A combination of good casework and an instinct for publicity made Mr. Burns a national figure. His exploits made national news, the gossip columns of New York newspapers, and the pages of detective magazines, in which he published "true" crime stories based on his exploits. Well qualified to direct the Bureau, and friends with Warren Harding's Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty, Burns was appointed as Director of the Bureau of Investigation on August 22, 1921. Under Mr. Burns, the Bureau shrank from its 1920 high of 1,127 personnel to around 600 three years later. He resigned in 1924 at the request of Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone because of his role in the Teapot Dome Scandal. This scandal involved the secret leasing of naval oil reserve lands to private comanies.

Mr. Burns retired to Florida and published detective and mystery stories based on his long career for several years. He died in Sarasota, Florida, in April 1932.

Directors Then and Now
Photographs and biographies of FBI Directors since 1908
-  Robert S. Mueller, III
   2001- Present
-  Thomas J. Pickard
   2001 (Acting)
-  Louis Freeh
   1993-2001

-  Floyd I. Clarke
   1993 (Acting)
-  William S. Sessions
   1987-1993
-  John Otto
   1987 (Acting)

-  William H. Webster
   1978-1987

-  Clarence M. Kelley
   1973-1978
-  William D. Ruckelshaus
   1973 (Acting)

-  L. Patrick Gray
   1972-1973 (Acting)
-  J. Edgar Hoover
   1924-1972
-  William J. Burns
   1921-1924
-  William J. Flynn
   1919-1921
-  William E. Allen
   1919 (Acting)
-  Alexander B. Bielaski
   1912-1919
-  Stanley Finch
   1908-1912
History of the FBI
Detailed description from 1908 to the present
FBI Headquarters
The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building from start to finish

Freedom of Information Act
Thousands of pages of frequently requested historical records

Historic Dates
Timeline of important events in FBI history

Hall of Honor
In honor of FBI Agents killed in the line of duty

Famous Cases
Including gangsters, spies, and Top Tenners
Heraldry of the FBI Seal
The significance of each symbol and color of the FBI seal