Monday, May 19, 2008

UFOs in Print: Some Older Literature

Here's just a random sampling to demonstrate the UFO subject's evolvement in various publications over the years.

Many UFO newsletters and journals have come and gone, of course. Veteran UFO researcher Lee R. Munsick began distributing his UFO Newsletter in the fifties, and by 1958 had incorporated other publications into his own. I don't believe it was uncommon in those early years to find the reality of the UFO phenomenon combined often with the stories of science fiction writers because various aspects of each seemed to enjoy uncanny relationships. Weird facts and weird fiction, each complemented the other in these early writings.
Also in 1958, Robert J Durant issued The Fitzgerald Report, the results of a comprehensive investigation of a UFO sighting involving several witnesses. The report only comprised 19 pages, but the print was small and there were illustrations including charts and scientific data, and witness letters to and from the Air Force and other government officials were quoted extensively. One of the strengths of The Fitzgerald Report was its emphasis on solid investigation, as opposed to the wild tales of the contactees, whose "personal accounts" of encounters with extraterrestrial entities, who looked amazingly like us, were popular in the fifties.
My older readers may remember a regular classroom distribution of the magazine, Senior Scholastic, a freebie available mainly to students in the higher grades. Here's the cover of the September 16, 1966 issue containing a well-publicized photo from the UFO "flap" hitting the USA at that time. The accompanying article, "Flying Saucers. . .Fact or Fancy," actually labored soberly to give all opposing views. I particularly liked the editors' approach to presenting evidence and opinions in a carousel fashion, going from one to the next, and NOT -- like so many TV shows and magazine articles intent on debunking in an undercurrent -- giving the "skeptics" the last word, as if everything preceding their proclamations had suddenly become irrelevant. Nowadays? Good luck trying to find a school where UFOs are even mentioned, let alone discussed in conjunction with the evidence.
Finally today: The Reference for Outstanding UFO Sighting Reports was one of the earliest attempts to computerize and offer UFO evidence. Published in 1966 by the UFO Information Retrieval Center, Inc. of Maryland and edited by Thomas M. Olsen, M.S., information from 160 of the best known UFO cases was displayed "with techniques which simplify the necessary task of periodic revision and republishing."
Further quoting from the introduction: "With the information medium of punched cards, we utilize the automated services provided by modern high-speed data processing machines. Essentially clerical tasks are done rapidly, efficiently and accurately..."
Obviously, that sounds rather dated now, but much has changed in 40-plus years with UFO reports computerized routinely in intricate detail all over the globe. But for their time, Olsen and UFOIRC's published compilation of data-processed report information (all in caps), maps and other visuals was a superb pioneering effort.