The burglars filled many suitcases with stolen files including papers that revealed that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were spying extensively on Vietnam protesters and civil rights groups.
Shortly after the break-in, the stolen files were mailed anonymously to politicians and newspaper reporters, who made some of the information public for the first time.
The burglars were never caught.
The burglary is told for the first time in a new book by journalist Betty Medsger.
In the book "The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI" Medsger writes that long before Edward Snowden and his leaks about the U.S. National Security Agency, American activists believed that there was government malfeasance that needed to be made public.
The mastermind behind the break-in was William Davidon and his daughter Sarah Davidon believes that breaking the law was the “right thing to do.”
"Sometimes we need to quote 'break the law' in order reveal the more profound injustices," Davidon said.