About FDA

History of FDA's Internal Organization

Brief Organizational History

In his 1837 annual report, Patent Commissioner Henry L. Ellsworth recommended a national agency for the encouragement of agriculture. Congress responded in 1839 by an appropriation of $1000 to the Commissioner of Patents for “the collection of agricultural statistics, and for other agricultural purposes.” From then on, the Patent Office collected and reported agricultural statistics, sponsored or conducted chemical investigations on agricultural matters, monitored agricultural developments, and reported on all of these in its annual reports.  Beginning in 1849, a separate report was made by the Patent Commissioner to Congress on agricultural matters. An Agricultural Division was established in the Patent Office and a chemical laboratory was created in that Division. 

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture was created in 1862, the Patent Office's Agricultural Division was transferred to the new Department, becoming the Division of Chemistry in 1890 and the Bureau of Chemistry in 1901. In 1927, the Bureau of Chemistry became the United States Food, Drug and Insecticide Administration, and in 1930 the name was shortened to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Ten years later, in 1940, the FDA was transferred from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the newly created Federal Security Agency, which was renamed the Department of Health Education and Welfare in 1953, and again renamed the Department of Health and Human Services in 1979.

Page Last Updated: 02/01/2018
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