Alaska P. Davidson

Alaska Packard Davidson (March 1, 1868 – July 16, 1934) was an American law enforcement officer who is best known for being the first female special agent in the FBI.

Alaska Packard Davidson
Alaska P. Davidson.jpg
Born
Alaska Packard

(1868-03-01)March 1, 1868
DiedJuly 16, 1934(1934-07-16) (aged 66)
OccupationFBI special agent
Spouse(s)
  • Ephraim B. McCrum (m. 1893)
  • James B. Davidson (before 1910–1929, his death)

Personal lifeEdit

Davidson was born in Warren, Ohio, on March 1, 1868, to Warren and Mary Elizabeth Doud Packard.[1] Her two brothers, James Ward Packard and William Doud Packard, founded Packard, an automobile manufacturer later taken over by Studebaker.[2]

Little is preserved about her personal life, except that she only had three years of public schooling and no university education[1][3] and that she had one child, Esther, who died in 1902.[2] She was married twice, first to Ephraim B. McCrum Jr. in 1893.[4] In 1910 and 1920, the United States Census lists her husband's name as James B. Davidson.[5][6] In 1930, her marital status is listed as "widowed".[7]

She died on July 16, 1934, at the age of 66.[1][2]

Work at the FBIEdit

On October 11, 1922, at age 54, Davidson was hired by director William J. Burns to work at the Bureau of Investigation (the former name of the FBI) as a special investigator; she was the first female special agent.[1][8] Trained in New York City, she was later assigned to the Washington, D.C. field office.[9] Her starting salary was $7 a day plus $4 when traveling.[1]

The Bureau was interested in hiring female agents to work on cases related to the Mann Act, which aimed to combat interstate sex trafficking.[1][2] However, since she was considered "very refined", the order was given that she wasn't to be put on "rough" cases.[1] This, combined with her limited schooling, meant that she was considered to be of limited use when it came to prosecuting such crimes.[2][8] During her work at the Washington field office, she was also involved in a case against another agent who was selling classified Department of Justice information to criminals.[9]

After J. Edgar Hoover became acting director of the Bureau in 1924 following the Teapot Dome scandal, he asked for Davidson's resignation when the Special Agent in Charge at the Washington field office reported that he had "no particular work for a woman agent".[1][10][11] She resigned on June 10, 1924.[1]

Only three women became agents in the 1920s and, with the resignation of Davidson and fellow agent Jessie B. Duckstein in 1924 and Lenore Houston in 1928, the FBI had no female agents between 1929 and 1972.[1][9][11]

In popular cultureEdit

Davidson's mention as the first female FBI agent by the character Lana Kane in the episode titled "Waxing Gibbous" of the TV series Archer: Dreamland has been noted by The A.V. Club as an example of the show's habit of using obscure references.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Engel, KeriLynn (2012-10-16). "Alaska P. Davidson, the FBI's first female Special Agent". Amazing Women In History. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  2. ^ a b c d e Delgado, Miguel A. (2017-02-04). "Alaska Packard, la primera agente del FBI despedida por ser mujer". El Español (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  3. ^ Holden, Henry M. (2008). FBI 100 Years. Zenith Imprint. p. 37. ISBN 9781610607186.
  4. ^ "Marriage record of Ephraim B. McCrum Jr. and Alaska Packard". State of Ohio: Trumbull County Probate Court. 1893.
  5. ^ United States Census for O'Hara Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Thirteenth United States Census. 1910.
  6. ^ United States Census for Mount Vemon, Fairfax, Virginia. Fourteenth United States Census. 1920.
  7. ^ United States Census for Mount Vemon, Fairfax, Virginia. Fifteenth United States Census. 1930.
  8. ^ a b Theoharis, Athan G. (1999). The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 321–322. ISBN 9780897749916.
  9. ^ a b c Mullenbach, Cheryl (2016). Women in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensics Experts, Police Chiefs, and More. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613734254.
  10. ^ "FBI Washington Field Office". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
  11. ^ a b "Alaska Davidson, First Female FBI Special Agent". 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
  12. ^ Hughes, William (2017-05-10). "Archer goes full-on horror movie with its most brutal rampage yet". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2017-05-12.

External linksEdit