In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson founded the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (as the Survey of the Coast) to provide nautical charts to the maritime community for safe passage into American ports and along our extensive coastline. The Weather Bureau was founded 1870 and, one year later, the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries was founded. Individually, these organizations were America's first physical science agency, America's first agency dedicated specifically to the atmospheric sciences, and America's first conservation agency.
The cultures of scientific accuracy and precision, service to protect life and property, and stewardship of resources of these three agencies were brought together in 1970 with the establishment of NOAA, an agency within the Department of Commerce. See where we've come from and where we're going. You can also find history specific to each NOAA mission area.