Recently, in going through some documents made searchable and digitized by the Library of Congress, I came across one Alaska Packard Davidson, who is described on her Wikipedia page as “an American law enforcement officer who is best known for being the first female special agent in the FBI.” At age 54, she joined the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) in October 11, 1922 as a special investigator, with a starting salary of $7 a day, which went up to $11 a day when traveling, first working at the New York office (where she went for training), then at the Washington office.  Although the BOI, the FBI’s precursor, wanted to hire women for cases related to combating intersex sex trafficking, she was considered “refined” so she wasn’t put on such cases, meaning the BOI considered her of “limited use” in prosecuting such crimes, partially due to her limited schooling.  Instead, she was involved in a case against an agent who sold classified DOJ information to criminals, for example.  After the resignation of her former boss, William J. Burns, who was caught up in the Teapot Dome Scandal, she was forced out by J. Edgar Hoover, who had become the Bureau’s acting director in 1924. He asked her to resign after the special agent leading the Washington field office, E.R. Bohner, said he had “no particular work for a woman agent.” She resigned on June 10 of the same year, even though there was no indication her work was unsatisificatory. Before that point, she still was able to transmit information to the BOI on the Fourth International Congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), a women’s peace activist group, in May 1924, under the name of A.P. Davidson, informing the agency, including Hoover, about their activities, because they claimed that Jane Addams was committing “treason” (a lie).  Following her, and with the resignation of other agents in the 1920s (Jessie B. Duckstein and Lenore Houston), the BOI, then FBI, had no female agents for 43 years, between 1929 and 1972! There is more to her life than her brief stint in the BOI, crossing some ethical boundaries by spying on WILPF by telling the BOI about its activities. Despite this, the agency still celebrates (also see here) her, despite the problematic history, as I just described, and role of Hoover in her ouster from the BOI.
Here’s what we do know. Alaska “Al”, likely named after the then-territory of the same name, was born in Ohio, on March 1, 1868 to Warren Packard and Mary Elizabeth, with her two brothers, James Ward and William Doud, who both founded the Packard auto company. She was first listed in the 1870 census as a 2-year-old girl, with James and William in the house, as was her 1-year-old sister Carlotta, and the household headed by Warren, a hardware merchant, and his wife, Mary.  In 1880, she was living with her parents, siblings (William, James, and Carlotta) in Chautauqua, New York. Why she was there has not been determined at this time. She had another sister, named Cornelia Olive.
Al had been in public school for three years and did not have a college, or university education. Cindee Mines notes on the Trumbell County Historical Society (TCHS) website that she grew up as the daughter of a wealthy territory, living in a huge mansion “on High Street at Mahoning Avenue in the mid 1870’s,” and that while there is no evidence she had any higher education, she was a “well-known equestrian, winning awards at county fairs in her teenage years,” even put in charge of the “New York and Ohio plant” for Packard Electric in 1890. Beyond that, she married two times. In 1893, she married a man named Ephraim Banks McCrum Jr., a close friend of her father, in Trumbell County, Ohio, as shown above. She had a daughter named Esther in 1894.  In 1900, the federal census showed her as married and with one child, while also confirming she had been married for seven years.  By then, however, she had, according to the aforementioned TCHS biography, had divorced Ephraim, with Esther living in a Columbus hospital known as the “Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth”. The same census showed her living with her widowed mother, Mary, brothers W.D. and William, and sisters, Carlotta and Cornelia. Esther sadly died in 1902 at the age of 8, of pneumonia, although TCHS said it was tuberculosis. 
At some point before 1910, she married a man named James B. Davidson, who was well-known to the Packard family. She is shown in the 1910 census as his wife, living in O’Hara Township, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, with two boarders: a 32-year-old man named Fred Osterley and an 18-year-old woman named Jessie Osterley.  A land record the previous year noted Al and James Ward Packard owning a tract of land named Lakewood in Chautauqua, New York.  The THCS biography says she purchased over 100 acres in Accotink, Virginia, which is near Mount Vernon, an unincorporated area in Fairfax County, living there with horses and a dog.
By 1920, she was living in Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Virginia, with James and a 16-year-old servant, from Maryland, named James Cot.  In 1925 she joined a petition to the New York Supreme Court for an appraisal transfer tax. Then came the letters between herself and Carrie Chapman Catt in 1927. On May 26, Carrie told her about a story from Harriet Taylor Upton about a story, assuming it was a man who came to her with a list of suffragettes compiled by the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), thanks to information from Ms. Mary Kilberth (a leading anti-suffragist) and Robert Eichelberger, the husband of famed suffragist Bessie R. Lucas Eichelberger. She says the list is from the Secret Service, but I think she means the BOI. She then said that she was writing an open letter to the D.A.R., because the first individual was part of it, saying that this material is fodder to anti-suffragists. She then added:
In view of the fact that you no longer are connected with the Department [The Bureau of Investigation], I think you might allow me to make this statement. In the event the government should make inquiry, which it is not likely to do, as to who this person was and I was driven in a corner, I might have to give your name. I do not think you would need to apologize and I believe that your name would not be asked for. I would certainly not give it unless I was driven to it and, indeed, I would agree not to give it until I had again consulted you, letting you know what the condition is under which the pressure has been made.
On May 30, Al responded, saying that she would be fine to use her name, forgetting most of the women on “Miss Kilbreth’s list” and said that Kilberth accused Catt “accused you of something…in connection with your South American trip and she couldn’t say enough against Mrs. Upton.” The final letter in this file is Carrie’s reply on June 25. She first apologizes for not acknowledging the letter more promptly, and said two people will be sent to her, stated her intention to write about this incident, and concluded by saying “it is a pity that the anti-suffragists are such poor sports that they cannot overcome their disapproval of us.” What I take from this whole exchange is that Al was a suffragist, which really isn’t much of a surprise, and that the BOI had compiled a list of suffragists, for who knows what end.
But that’s not the whole story. In a May 27, 1927 letter to Harriet Taylor Upton, she says the D.A.R. is lifting up an anti-suffragist member, and even noted that she pushed for more women to be appointed within the government, including Al herself. She proceeded to give a brief description of her, which gives details about her life:
When I went to Washington in the Republican [Party] Headquarters, I tried not to get places for anybody in government. I did a great deal towards the appointment of women to key positions, but not regular government positions. I made one exception and that was the daughter of a citizen of Warren whom I had known for years. She is the sister of the Packard men who made the Packard machine. She had married rather unfortunately and was living in a little town down in Virginia. She had experience in office work, is splendid at managing people and I asked Harry Daughterty, the Attorney General, if he could find a place for her. She expected just a small place of a thousand dollars or so, and would drive back and forth from her plantation, which is a part of the Washington estate. We were surprised to have him appoint her to the Secret Service Commission [BOI?] and she worked under [William J.] Burns, the great secret service man. She got $2300.00 a year salary and she did a corking [splendid] job. It was just the kind of a job she could do. They finally took in another woman who proved to be a discredit to women and to the department and everything else. Now in the beginning when Mrs. Davidson began her work in this department, she would come to me asking about the loyalty of this person and that person and in the course of the time she was there, I learned that Miss Kilbreth of the Patriot was stuffing the Attorney General’s office with all of the lies possible. Now one day Mrs. Davidson came in with a list of names and among them were our people. I have forgotten now just who was on the list, but it was our own folks and they were just about as much traitors to the government as we are now. I therefore told Mrs. Davidson that that whole thing was just made up, and she said she had about concluded that this was true for she has always been devoted to me, and Miss Kilbreth told her awful things about me. She thought if things were no truer about other people than they were about me, there was nothing to it. I had forgotten that I ever reported this to you. I had forgotten that she threw the list in the waste basket. Of course I did not write that it was a woman who gave me the information, because I did not want anyone to know then that the secret service through personal friendship were consulting me. And you must have taken it that it was a man because all people employed were men…I do not know whether Mrs. Davidson would have any objection to your using her name or saying that it was a woman from the Attorney General’s office or not. If you want me to I can write to her, or if you want to you can write direct to her, telling her what you want it for. She is out of the thing entirely now and never will get back because Mr. Daugherty is no longer there and because I am no longer there. Her address is Mrs. James Davidson, Acotink, Va.
Carrie then goes onto say that she might sever her membership with the D.A.R. I would like to know if the D.A.R. was filled with suffragists at the time, or if Carrie was boasting. After all, Susan B. Anthony, Emily Parmely Collins, Carrie Chase Davis, and Alice Paul were recorded as members of the D.A.R. Al also showed good judgment by throwing away the list of suffragists in the waste basket. Someone needs to make a film or animation of this. It would be great! There are other Packards mentioned in the papers, like a “Mrs. Packard” in Springfield, Massachusetts who is the vice-chairman for a “Mrs. Ben Hooper.”  Also, considering that Carrie was, at the time, in a relationship with Mary “Molly” Garrett Hay, after her second husband, George Catt died in 1905, is it possible she was attracted to Al? Is that why she said that Al “married rather unfortunately”? I mean, I don’t think we can rule that out, although this could also be a stretch too far, as she may have been saying that Al’s marriage with James was an unhealthy one. In any case, Al was still married to James at the time, so such a relationship would have been unlikely. Even so, it appears that Carrie recommended Al for the job, at least if this letter is to be believed.
Three years later, in 1930, Al was widowed and still living in Mount Vernon, at a house worth about $4,000.  And yes, she lived alone, had a radio and no occupation listed, which is not a shock for someone 62 years old. Although she was alone, we don’t know whether she had close friends or family members which kept her company, although it is possible. She was described as widowed because James had died in May 1929. According to the TCHS biography, she continued living on the farm until her death.
She died four years later, on July 16, 1934, in Alexandria, Virginia, at the age of 66 of various causes.  She lived on in many realms. She was mentioned in the episode “Waxing Gibbous” of the eighth season of Archer, a mature animation, which was described by The A.V. Club as an obscure reference, and praised by Vulture. In chapter two of Gloria H. Giroux’s Crucifixion Thorn: Volume Two of the Arizona Trilogy, a character is inspired by Al, while others chattered on Twitter about renaming the FBI building after her, As some of her ancestors put it, she lived an “unusual life.” She definitely did, without a doubt! There are many avenues and chances to branch out with this article, for someone who is my sixth cousin three times removed, to other topics and I hope you all enjoyed this post.
 Theoharis, Athan G. (1999). The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 321–322. ISBN 9780897749916; Mullenbach, Cheryl (2016). Women in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensics Experts, Police Chiefs, and More. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613734254; Vines, Lynn. “The First Female Agents,” The Investigator, p 77-78
 Delgado, Miguel A. (February 4, 2017). “Alaska Packard, la primera agente del FBI despedida por ser mujer”. El Español (in Spanish). Retrieved January 16, 2021; Theoharis, Athan G. (1999). The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 321–322. ISBN 9780897749916.
 Mullenbach, Cheryl (2016). Women in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensics Experts, Police Chiefs, and More. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613734254. Her testimony before a House select committee in that case in May 1924 is shown on pages 2492 to 2495 of [Investigation of Hon. Henry Daughtery Formerly Attorney General of the United States] Hearings Before the Select Committee on the Investigation of the Attorney General, United States Congress, Senate Sixty-Eighth Congress First Session Persuant to S. Res 157 Directing a Committee to Investigate the Failure of the Attorney General to Prosecute or Defend Certain Criminal and Civil Actions Wherein the Government is Interested: May 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, and 22, 1924 [Part 9] (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1924).
 Davidson, A.P. “Re – Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom: Report of Fourth International Congress,” File 237, May 7, 1924, within “Jane Addams Part 1 of 4,” FBI, The Vault, Pages 2-9; Davidson, A.P. “Re – Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom: Report of Fourth International Congress,” File 4237, May 5, 1924, within “Jane Addams Part 3 of 4,” FBI, The Vault, Pages 18-25; Davidson, A.P. “Re – Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom: Report of Fourth International Congress,” May 5, 1924, within “Jane Addams Part 3 of 4,” FBI, The Vault, Pages 26-39; Davidson, A.P. “Re – Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom: Report of Fourth International Congress,” May 5, 1924, within “Jane Addams Part 3 of 4,” FBI, The Vault, Pages 40-46, continued in “Jane Addams Part 4 of 4,” FBI, The Vault, pages 1-6. Parts of her report may also be on pages 1-29 of “Jane Addams Part 2 of 4.” Her reports didn’t matter, as Meredith Dovan wrote, on page 18 of her thesis, “FBI Investigations into the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left” that “Hoover fired both women [Alaska and Jessie B. Duckstein] during a round of cuts after he became acting director of the FBI in May 1924.”
 “United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch, James W Packard in household of Warren Packard, Ohio, United States; citing p. 21, family 5, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,771; “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch, 13 November 2020, Alaska Packard in household of Warren Packard, Chautauqua, New York, United States; citing enumeration district ED 39, sheet 30B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,815.
 “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003“, database with images, FamilySearch, 1 January 2021), Alacha Packard in entry for Esther McCrum, Birth registers 1883-1896 vol 3., page 184, image 183 of 289.
 “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, William Packard in household of Mary Packard, Warren Township Warren city Ward 1, Trumbull, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 120, sheet 13A, family 297, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,325.
 “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch, 14 December 2020, Alaska P. Mc Crum in entry for Esther Mc Crum, 20 Apr 1902; citing Death, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States, source ID v 3 p 240, County courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 2,026,910.
 “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch, accessed 16 January 2021, Alaska Davidson in household of James B Davidson, O’Hara Township, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 185, sheet 10A, family 212, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1296; FHL microfilm 1,375,309.
 “United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975“, database with images, FamilySearch, 27 December 2020, Alaska P Davidson in entry for James Ward Packard, 1910, Grantees 1902-1910 vol A-Z, image 564 of 811, page 592. The liber is noted as 388 and the page as 477, but this volume appears to not be digitized as of yet.
 “United States Census, 1920“, database with images, FamilySearch, accessed 4 January 2021, Alaska Davidson in household of J B Davidson, Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Virginia, United States, citing enumeration district (ED) ED 36, sheet 7B, family 130, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1886; FHL microfilm 1,821,886.
 Catt, Carrie Chapman. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers: General Correspondence, Circa 1890 to 1947; Davidson, Alaska P. – 1947, 1890. Manuscript/Mixed Material, pages 1-3, Letters on May 26, 1927, May 30, 1927, and June 25, 1927.
 Catt, Carrie Chapman. Carrie Chapman Catt Papers: General Correspondence, Circa 1890 to 1947; Upton, Harriet Taylor. – 1947, 1890. Manuscript/Mixed Material, pages 3-4.
 “United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch, accessed 16 January 2021, Alaska P Davidson, Mount Vemon, Fairfax, Virginia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 18, sheet 18B, line 53, family 404, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2442; FHL microfilm 2,342,176.
 “Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987,” database with images, FamilySearch, 16 August 2019), Alaska Packard Davidson, 16 Jul 1934; from “Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850,” database and images, Ancestry, 2012; citing Alexandria, , Virginia, United States, entry #15826, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.