FBI and Homosexuality: 1920-1929

1920s: “antique shows” and a “lightness in his step"
Claire Bond Potter refers to snickering newspaper gossip of the 1920s and 1930s that reported J. Edgar Hoover's attendance at “antique shows” and referred to a “lightness in his step” as he made his daily rounds. Potter notes: "Oddly, these gossip items are preserved in a collection of newspaper clippings Hoover kept himself."

Claire Bond Potter, “Queer Hoover: Sex, Lies, and Political History,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 15, no. 3 (September 2006): page 368. See J. Edgar Hoover Scrapbooks, RG 65, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

1920, January 2
Raids initiated by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, head of the Justice Department, and aided by the Bureau of Investigation, occur in 32 cities. (Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, p. 93)

1920, February: "moral perverts"
U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, in a journal article The Case Against the Reds, included in a list of those he opposed as "reds." These included International Workers of the World,

the most radical socialists, the misguided anarchists, the agitators who oppose the limitations of unionism, the moral perverts and the hysterical neurasthenic women who abound in communism. (A. Mitchell Palmer, "The Case Against the Reds," The Forum, A Magazine of Constructive Nationalism, vol. 68, no. 2, page 168.)

1920, October
By this month there are 150,000 cards in Hoover's master index of radicals. By the fall of 1921, the cards had grown to 450,00. (Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, p. 104)

1920, October 5
Hoover in a memo explains the expansion of the original Radical or Anti-Radical Division of the Justice Department, into the General Intelligence Division. "While the work of the General Intelligence Division was at first confined solely to the investigation of the radical movement it has now expanded to cover more general intelligence work, including not only the radical activities in the United States and abroad, but also the study of matters of an international nature, as well as economic and industrial disturbances incident thereto." Gentry comments: "The term 'industrial disturbances' was a euphemism for 'strikes,' the Department of Justice under Palmer having become a national strikebreaking agency."(Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, p. 79)

By this year Hoover had set up an index system listing virtually every radical leader and organization in the United States, an index that contained upward of 400,000 names. (Oshinsky, David M. "The Senior G-Man". New York Times, September 15, 1991).

1921, August 22
On this date, Hoover is been named “assistant chief” of the Bureau of Investigation within the Attorney General's office.  Attorney General Harry M. Dougherty transferred the General Intelligence Division from the Department of Justice to the Bureau of Investigation., where it was under Hoover's command. (Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets, (NY: W.W. Norton, 1991),  p. 111.)

1924, May
On this date, U.S. Attorney General Harland Fiske Stone says to Hoover, “Young man I want you to be Acting Director of the Bureau of Investigation.” The understanding was that the appointment was to be temporary.(Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, p. 111, 122.)

1924, December 10
On this date Attorney General Stone informed Hoover that he could drop the 'Acting' from his title. (Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, p. 142.)

The FBI's monitoring of "obscene or indecent" materials began this year. (Theoharis, Athan. From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover. (Chicago: Ivan R Dee, July 1, 1991), page 4.

1925, January 1
Photo: J. Edgar Hoover holding rifle; from waist up. 

Time Life Pictures.GettyImages #50659695.: Accessed December 23, 2012 from http://www.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx?contractUrl=2&language=en-US&family=editorial&assetType=image&mt=photography&p=j.+edgar+Hoover

1920s, late: "a dandyish dresser"
The FBI's historian, Dr. John Fox, commented, in 2010, to retired agents that "rumors regarding the Director's sexual preferences have been around since the late 1920s or early 1930s. The earliest was a newspaper blurb describing him as a dandyish dresser."

Larry Wack, "Seventy Five Years of Conjecture About J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson." Accessed November 25, 2011; link not active on August 18, 2015.

Historian Curt Gentry says: "rumors of Hoover’s homosexuality had circulated in print from the moment he became director in 1926".

Potter, "Queer Hoover," page 256.

1928, April 2
Clyde Tolson joins the FBI.

Hoover makes Tolson head of the Buffalo, NY, office of the FBI.