G-Man: Early Life | Carolina Stories - Episode 2


Melvin Purvis was born in 1903, the first son of a large family from Timmonsville. He studied law at the University of South Carolina without much enthusiasm, but graduated in 1925. When his love interest married another man, Purvis looked for work which would lead him away from Florence, and left for Washington in 1927. Purvis would find out that the Foreign Service was not for him, but a close friend of Melvin’s father would steer him towards a career in the Department of Justice, newly helmed by J. Edgar Hoover.  His first case would take place in Dallas, investigating a stolen car. Purvis caught the perpetrator, and the case helped elevate his status within the FBI.  After his first case, Melvin Purvis moved throughout the United States, working in field offices in locations such as New York City, Birmingham, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and Chicago. J. Edgar Hoover took notice of Purvis’ performance, and began grooming Purvis for an executive position in the FBI. On November 5, 1930, Hoover made Purvis the special agent in charge of the Cincinnati Bureau Office, making him the youngest field office chief within the FBI, at only 26 years old.