University Archives


Quick Draw! J. Edgar Hoover TLS Praising New England's FBI Agents

1p TLS signed by J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as "J. Edgar Hoover" at bottom right. Written in Washington, D.C. on November 6, 1951. On Hoover's personal "Federal Bureau of Investigation / United States Department of Justice / Washington, D.C." letterhead. The watermarked cream stationery paper shows moderate wear, else in good condition. 8" x 10.5".

Comes with an over-sized black and white press-ready photograph of a Massachusetts FBI Agent, and a photocopy of the Yankee Magazine article that later featured this picture and Hoover's recommended caption. Provenance: From the Collection of William Wheeler III. Here, FBI Director Hoover responds to the recent inquiry of Robert Hansell Sagendorph (1900-1970), the president, editor, and publisher of Yankee Magazine.

Hoover wrote in part: "In response to your inquiry for suggestions concerning an appropriate caption, it is suggested you may desire to consider the following: 'Special Agent Joseph A. Smith of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one of Director J. Edgar Hoover's representatives in New England, demonstrates for us the quick draw at which all FBI agents are highly proficient. Although Special Agent Smith carefully unloaded his revolver before we took this photograph, we can readily understand why Federal law violators respect him and his fellow agents…'"

The action photograph shows Special Agent Smith wheeling around and pointing a gun straight at the camera. At some later time, the photo was inscribed in French in blue crayon, else very good. The photo appeared in the January 1952 issue of Yankee Magazine, with Hoover's caption reproduced verbatim. Special Agent Joseph A. Smith served in northeastern Massachusetts near Lowell and Fitchburg. Hoover, a notorious control freak, approved of Sagendorph's conscientiousness in checking with the FBI prior to printing a story on growing crime rates in New England called "Yankee Considers Law Enforcement." The Yankee Magazine is still family-owned and operated. Its founder, Robb Sagendorph, conceived of the idea of a regional periodical “for Yankee readers, by Yankee writers, and about Yankeedom.” He was its president between 1935-1970. J. Edgar Hoover's name is synonymous with the intelligence agency that he helped found in 1935: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The detective served as Director of the Bureau of Investigation (the FBI's predecessor) from 1924-1935, and as Director of the FBI from its inception until his death in 1972. While Hoover took many liberties with the information he collected, critics agree that he also built up, enlarged, modernized, and legitimized the agency.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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