Sunday, November 19, 2017

AFU in the 1980s

In several blog entries I have presented the early history of AFU during the first formative years 1973-1979. Compared with the intensive and global activities of today the 1970s was a period of slow but gradual growth of the library, coupled with much discussion of the future development of our small informal working group. In March 1979 we decided to change the acronym AFU from Arbetsgruppen för ufologi (Working group for ufology) to Arkivet för UFO-forskning (Archives for UFO Research) and we also started publishing articles in English in AFU Newsletter.

By 1980, as several ufologists began donating books and magazines to our library, the international contacts increased and because of our new name, we realized that we couldn´t just function as an informal group. So in January 1980 AFU was registred as a formal foundation with a governing board and bylaws. But our greatest problem was lack of space as the entire library was housed in Kjell Jonson´s small one room apartment in Södertälje. Anders Liljegren succeeded in finding a 38 square meters basement facility in Norrköping and on November 15, 1980 the AFU library was transported to our new premises. Norrköping was chosen as our new headquarters for practical reasons. Anders had a steady job and the rent for the facility was reasonable. With our new premises AFU entered an era of continued expansion. From now on Anders Liljegren handled the day to day activities at AFU, after work and at weekends. Ufologist Sven-Olov Svensson, who lived nearby, began taking an active part in handling book loans, which then often were sent by mail.

Anders Liljegren and Kjell Jonsson relaxing in my apartment in Sundbyberg after discussions about the future of AFU, August 18, 1980

GICOFF, Göteborgs informationscenter för UFO (Gothenburg UFO Information Center) was the first research oriented UFO organization in Sweden, founded in 1969, one year before the founding of UFO-Sweden. GICOFF was headed by Sven-Olof Fredriksson and Björn Högman and performed high quality field investigation and documentation in the 1970s. The group ceased activity in 1978 and in 1981 the GICOFF archive was donated to AFU.

Sven-Olof Fredriksson

By 1983 the library consisted of 1163 titles and the need for a specialized cataloguing system became evident. Anders Liljegren created the first version of UfoCode, later updated to the more inclusive PhenCode, the library classification system presently used by AFU.

A happy Anders Liljegren at the new AFU headquarters 1983

In May 1984 I terminated my work as librarian at Stockholm Public Library and moved to Norrköping, beginning a career as freelance journalist. We were now three active ufologists in Norrköping engaged in keeping AFU going. New board member from this year was journalist Clas Svahn, active in ufology since 1974. During the 1980s he lived with his wife in Luleå, in the northern part of Sweden so his visits to AFU was not so frequent. But we had now installed a copy machine and telephone in our facility which made communication easier.

In 1985 Anders bought the first AFU computer at a cost of incredible 50,000 SEK, a very large amount of money at that time, all from his own savings. With this computer Anders built our first database, ScanCat, with Swedish UFO reports. Statistical analysis now became much easier and an important research tool. In the Autumn of 1985 the vast archive of the publishing House Parthenon was donated to AFU, collected by a.o. Carl-Anton Mattson and me at Hälsingborg.

Proudly displaying some of the magazines at AFU 1985

1986 was in several ways a year of sadness. On February 28, 1986 Edith Nicolaisen, founder of Parthenon, died. By a strange coincidence this was the same day that Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated in Stockholm. On April 30, 1986 our friend and AFU co-founder Kjell Jonsson died during a heavy attack of asthma. We had noticed his health becoming increasingly frail but his early death was still a chock to us. Kjell was in many respects the man who created AFU as a library and archive institution. On the positive side 1986 was the year when AFU joined UFO-Sweden as an affiliate group and could officially be recognized as the archive unit of our national organization.

Kjell Jonsson at the old AFU library in his home, August 1977

If 1986 was a year of grief, 1987 proved to be quite the opposite. In 1987 Sven-Olov Svensson made the historical decision to quit his ordinary work at a local firm and engage in full time volunteer service at the then rather small AFU office. Truly a gift from heaven for a non-profit but growing foundation. And he is still with us today.

Sven-Olov Svensson, June 1988

In 1987 Anders Liljegren and Clas Svahn had been allowed to copy the entire UFO archive at The Swedish Defence Research Institute (FOI), former name FOA. We could now create a large national UFO report archive, merging reports from FOA, GICOFF, UFO-Sweden, AFU and other Swedish sources.

Interviewing Whitley Strieber at Hotel Diplomat, Stockholm, October 11, 1988

In an earlier blog entry I have detailed the very happy ending in our efforts to save the archive of pioneer Swedish ufologist Gösta Rehn. In August 1989 Anders Liljegren and I succeeded in rescuing his entire correspondence file from being dumped in a container. This was also the year when Clas Svahn and Anders Liljegren published their groundbreaking research and documentation of the famous Domsten abduction case of December 19, 1958. After years of meticulous investigation they could prove that this classic abduction and contact claim was a hoax, inspired by the Tom Trick science fiction series published in a Swedish magazine. Their motive was simply fame and money. The Domsten study is serious research-oriented ufology at its best and a prime example of what can be achieved by having an extensive archive as a research base. 

Anders Liljegren, Åke Franzén and Sven-Olov Svensson at AFU May 30, 1989

For AFU the 1980s was a decade of consolidation and implementation of several research and documentation projects. A further development from being a simple UFO lending library to an international UFO, Fortean and paranormal archive.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

AFU and UFO Research

”Too much of a good thing can be  wonderful”. This classic aphorism from actress May West is actually a very apt description of the present state - and problems - of AFU. The ”too much of a good thing” is the avalanche of archives from all over the world that has been donated to us, especially during the last two or three years. ”Wonderful”, of course, but it has also resulted in several, initially not expected, problems and even in some ways been detrimental to our own private research efforts and AFU´s general promotion of UFO research. I became acutely aware of this dilemma a couple of days ago upon receiving an email from my AFU colleague Anders Liljegren who described his growing frustration at the present mission impossible situation at AFU.

Where to find space for this collection? Anders Liljegren July 1, 2009

Here are a few quotes from Anders´ letter summarizing some of the current problems:

"What is an archive without ordered files?  Without the good order and a long-time plan for how to handle mega-large collections (such as from FSR, CFI, CEI and BSRA), AFU cannot survive as an idea. The daily work at AFU is extremely dependent on my own involvement and knowledge of the materials and its background(s). Every day I have a steady stream of questions from our five employees and another five or ten of our volunteers.

The goal is to have a good and sensible control over how the AFU files develop, to establish routines and maybe new cross-collection files and indexes that helps us and the researcher.
Decisions must be made on how to arrange files and where to keep them (in any of our thirteen facilities). Processes going on must be checked for quality so that we are sure that the end result will be good preserved files in a workable order for the future.

Anders hard working at the Evans library, November 16, 2010

Digitalization is an important point here, but cannot be allowed to control the whole process. First comes a good order to paper and media files, after that we can talk about digitization of small selected parts which are deemed of high interest to a fairly large number of customers world-wide. Digitization of the holdings of the full contents of any archive is considered unrealistic fantasies even by major archive institutions. And such institutions ought to have resources that AFU will never come to have.
Spending time and resources on engaging unemployed people, like we have done during the past seven - eight years is not profitable to the AFU foundation, unless we are, somehow, paid for doing this. Between 2009 and 2016 AFU had good income from putting many unemployed people on projects to order and digitize simple collections. This good income is no longer in place.

There may have been some 50 different persons with us during this period. The energy spent to organize all this has been worth the while mainly because we had more than 6 million SEK coming into the foundation as direct and indirect support from the Swedish government.
This has never happened to any private ufo-related project before, anywhere in the world. Not even with funding from rich private patrons. If I had had the 6 million SEK directly in my hands I would have found much more effective ways of organizing our work than to run-around instructing or trying to motivate people who have been out of the regular job market for 10-20 years.

We have hundreds of large and small “forgotten” heaps of papers in almost every corner. Some of these documents may be of great importance if they are filed in a researchable framework (by subject, by organization, by date). Now they are not. Another example: A good part of 2017 I have spent on going through and checking parts of our magazine store. Week-long projects where I have dived into the mags from country-after-country, checking up shelf contents and comparing with my database. Often re-filing the mags into new and better folders or acid-free boxes to preserve them better. That work will have to continue; there are still many countries to work on.

Together with Anders, reviewing the BSRF archive August 2, 2016

 In the period 2012-2016 I had three different men working with this filing of magazines from all over the world. I could do introductions working with each for about a week and continued routine checks on their work. In hindsight I now discover that many magazines have been misplaced in all corners of the store and much previous work has/had to be re-done. Last week we found a good batch of Norwegian mags in a box of Danish mags while the Danish that should have been there were missing. Mags published from Spain are routinely found on our South American shelves – and vice versa. Magazines in English have routinely been filed as American.

Absolutely no shade should fall on those kind and well-meaning people who worked for us, they were maybe just ignorant or didn’t dare to ask? Anyway, these are but small examples of all the problems that should be corrected before AFU continues to accept new collections at the “avalanche” rate of speed we have had during the past ten years.”

These are but some of the present AFU problems discussed by Anders Liljegren. What we really need now is a large intermediate storage facility where incoming collections can be placed awaiting to be reviewed and catalogued. But as of now we simply do not have the money to hire premise no 14. More sponsors are needed. We do not want to say no to donors of archives. It is better to have archives stored at AFU than dumped or scattered on many hands.

Clas Svahn with a unique sign donated to AFU, October 21, 2012

 March 17, 1973 is the official founding date of AFU. We were three young ufologists, inspired by Jacques Vallee and John Keel, critical of the prevalent ETI information ideology in the Swedish UFO community. Instead we wanted to concentrate on research and documentation. In the information sheet sent out we motivated our point of view partly with a quote from Jacques Vallee´s Passport To Magonia:
”There is a tendency among the believers to gather into large, very formal organizations, whre they waste all there energy and, sometimes, a good deal of money, with practically no visible result. It is clear that such organizations answer a psychological need rather than a genuine desire to discover the answer to an interesting intellectual problem. Maintaining such a group implies a tremendous overhead… and experience shows that research is always tha last activity it can afford. Instead, these groups generate so much internal bitterness and so many interorganizational feuds that they prove to be serious obstacles to independent researchers who are simply trying to get firsthand data and do not care to support one particular personality or theory against another.” (p. 158)

In a certain sense we are today back at square one as in 1973. We have very little time to spend on personal research projects as the avalance of archives donated to AFU takes most of our time. Especially is this the situation for Anders Liljegren who often spend more than eight hours work at the archive, taking care of the day-to-day routines. Sometimes too much of a good thing can be complicated.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Meade Layne - Roger P. Graham Correspondence

Readers of my blog are aware of that in the Summer 2016 the very extensive archive of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF) was donated to AFU. As my colleague Anders Liljegren is working hard to get the Flying Saucer Review (FSR) archive in order we decided that I concentrate my time and efforts on the BSRF archive. This is a huge undertaking and it will probably take me at least one or two years of concentrated work to get all the files reviewed and organized.

Studying with the BSRF collection

As the work proceeds I plan to regularly present interesting data from the archive on my blog. For an archive aficionado like me it is exceedingly fascinating to delve into the files and folders of this unique collection of material. In one of the folders I found a treasure trove of old letters. Correspondence between Meade Layne and science fiction writer Roger P. Graham (Rog Phillips) covering the period July 1946 – January 1948. So far I have found 60 letters. 12 from Meade Layne and 48 from Roger P. Graham. What is especially unique with this collection is that it gives behind the scenes information and comments during the early days of the UFO era and insights into the founding years of BSRF. The correspondence is of special interest to ufologists, Forteans, esotericists, investigators of paranormal phenomena and of course to fans and historians of science fiction.

Meade Layne

Roger P. Graham (1909-1966) was an American science fiction writer, often using the pseudonym Rog Phillips. During his active years he used more than twenty different pseudonyms. Graham became a full time writer after World War II. In 1946 he moved together with his wife to Evanston, Illinois to work for Ray Palmer´s Amazing Stories. They became close friends and Graham received first hand knowledge of the controversial Maury Island incident. He also developed a close friendship with Meade Layne, whom he visited several times at his home in San Diego, California. There is much information on the internet about ”Rog Phillips” as a science fiction writer but nothing is mentioned of  his deep interest in spiritualism, esotericism and paranormal phenomena. The quotes and comments I present here from his correspondence with Meade Layne gives an deeper insight into Graham´s spiritual quest, his theories and writings.

Roger P. Graham

The first letter found in the Layne-Graham correspondence file is a long (five pages) undated letter with much personal information from Meade Layne, written in June or July 1946. It is a reply to Graham´s introductory letter: 
”Your letter is unusual, and interesting, and very welcome. As you know, I just don´t and can´t write long letters except on very rare occasions. I am writing one to you for the same reason you wrote to me – because I want to.”

Graham´s first letter must have struck a deep chord in the 25 years older Meade Layne. In fact this long, personal letter was so unusual that Riley Crabb printed the entire text with comments in Round Robin. The Journal of Borderland Research, vol. 31, no. 2, March-April 1975. The reason was that in this letter Meade Layne stated much of the purposes and principles of Borderland Sciences Research Associates and he also was unusually open minded regarded his own life:
”A few words about myself, since you have given me considerable insight into your ways of thought. I´m not a scientist or mathematician. I have an earned Doctorate in philosophy, tho the thesis for the degree was actually done in comparative literature. I taught in various colleges and universities, also in high schools for several years. So, I´m only an academician who has strayed into borderland sciences and psychic research… My occult background is in what is called esoteric Qabalism – which is no child´s play, I assure you”

The affinity was obviously mutual as in his reply Graham wrote:
”You know, I think I like you very much. I like your not having a religious organization to rake in the suckers money with. I like your attitude. I am only thirty-six and just starting out in life in many ways.” (Letter to Meade Layne, July 13, 1946).

Graham had because of his move to Evanston been influenced by the ideas of Ray Palmer and studied the complicated channeled ”Bible” Oahspe, a favourite of Palmer. Although Graham kept an open mind he was by this time more of an agnostic and soon entered a kind of student – teacher relation with Meade Layne, who was an erudite esotericist and former member of Dion Fortune´s The Society of the Inner Light:
”Then, if we are really immortal as phenomena strongly indicates, we will at least have gained a start in the right direction by the time we cast off this body. It is much better to die not believing anything, and with a well ingrained system of analysis, than to die believing a mass of phantasies and exalted theories based on meaningless words.” (Letter to Meade Layne, August 28, 1946).

Inspired by his new correspondent Graham began reading classics like The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune and The Secret Doctrine by Helena P. Blavatsky. These studies resulted in a manuscript for an article, Existence, A Discussion, which he sent for publishing in Round Robin:
”The general trend of modern study and research is to bring the supernormal into the fold of the normal and the understood. This trend should be accompanied by a serious attemp to clarify terms, and weed out the obsolete and discredited meanings, either by coining new words and restricting their meanings, as is done in mathematics, or by specific definition and tabulation of terms… Another example, to many people soul and spirit are synonimous terms. To me the soul is the vehicle, the permanent, material vehicle of the spirit.” (Quote from manuscript enclosed with letter to Meade Layne, October 30, 1946).

Coming from a beginner in esoteric studies this was certainly very insightful comments on the problems encountered when trying to understand Theosophy or the Qabalah of Dion Fortune. In his manuscript Graham tried to formulate Hylozoism, that all matter have consciousness, a basic concept in esotericism and also criticize the abstruse terminology used, usually a stumbling block to understand what the author is talking about. Both these problems have, in my view, been brilliantly solved by the Swedish esotericist Henry T. Laurency.

Surprisingly Meade Layne appears to have misunderstood Graham on these points and declined to publish the article. In his reply he wrote:
”Since you are a friend of mine, (and I wish to be yours), I suppose I can criticize your article rather freely… On several points I feel that you are misinformed. I don´t know of any serious study being made, to determine whether astral bodies are material. So far as I know, no one in the whole history of occcultism ever denied that they are material. All informed spiritualists understand that matter. All the five vehicles of the Theosophical teaching are ”material” – finer grades of matter” (Letter to Roger P. Graham, November 22, 1946).

In a letter written in January 1947 Graham gives a rather uncanny ”prediction” regarding future conflicts between nations:
”One of my definite convictions is that we will not ever have a war with Russia. Another is that the next war, which will not come for many years yet… will be between Christianity and Islam, - a federation of Moslem states which is not yet completely crystalized, against Europe, and opened by the moslems.” (Letter to Meade Layne, January 19, 1947).
There is no information about how he arrived at this conclusion, which certainly is something to consider looking at todays political and religious clashes. Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain speech at Fulton, Missouri in March 1946 so speculation of a war with Russia would have been more logical. And the Middle East conflict resulting from the founding of Israel didn´t begin until 1948.

After the Kenneth Arnold sighting June 24, 1947 Graham made these comment in two of his letters:
”Your card came this morning. Also the morning newspaper which looks like an edition of the Shaver mystery, with people lost in caves, and flying pie plates seen all over the United States. What a world!” (Letter to Meade Layne, July 5, 1947)
”The note just received on the saucers is interesting. Of course you have now read the army interpretation. To accept it means calling a lot of people who are undoubtedly reliable and experienced in observation, with the added advantage of being in a plane at the time, of being outright liars.” (Letter to Meade Layne, July 10, 1947).

Working with Ray Palmer it was only natural that Graham would also become involved in the controversial Maury Island incident of June 21, 1947. He makes several interesting comments on this case in his letters to Meade Layne:
”Am wondering how you got hold of the information? Here´s the dope of it.Working out of Tacoma Washington is a tug boat outfit or some kind of boat outfit (not sure of the type). One of the men on this wrote Ray that about twenty tons of stuff fell from the sky, - not necessarily from a flying saucer, since he didn´t see where it fell from. He sent Ray about five pounds of the stuff. I took a small piece and subjected it to a few tests. It is an oxide of some kind. It has a high electrical resistance indicating that it may be the oxide of some metal. Heat did not affect it in any way, though I did not have facilities for intense heat. It looks like hard coal, but fifteen minutes over a gas flame turned the edges of it white hot without any signs of burning, so it isn´t coal. It is heavy and black coming in pieces with glistening black surfaces and from large sheets, apparently, that are about an inch thick.” (Letter to Meade Layne, July 26, 1947).

”The FBI called on Ray Tuesday and grilled him, trying to get him ”confess” that he started the flying saucer stuff as a hoax to increase circulation. That after the official army announcement that it is a hoax and all investigation of it has been dropped. Oh yeah?... The FBI entertains the idea that Arnold, under the pay of Ray, took the stuff up and dumped it from a plane. (At least twenty tons of it!)… Ray believes the flying saucers are here to prevent another war, and that a war cannot be fought so long as they are in the sky and not accounted for. (Letter to Meade Layne, August 14, 1947).

”Ray plans to send you some of the sworn statements for your files as soon as he gets through with them. In that way they will not all be in one basket. The F.B.I. has their eyes on him, and if they knew of the plans we have they would stop them, because the saucers are squelched now in the news. They exist and the government knows they exist, but doesn´t want that known to the public.” (Letter to Meade Layne, September 6, 1947).

Ray Palmer

Whatever is the reality regarding the Maury Island case, these statements from Graham must be one of the first assertions that the government is covering up the truth about the flying saucers. Interesting is also Ray Palmer´s belief that the saucers are here to prevent war on planet earth. A view very much different from Richard Shaver´s dark visions, also presented by Ray Palmer.

In several blog entries I have written about Millen Cooke, who wrote the remarkably prophetic article Son of the Sun in Ray Palmer´s magazine Fantastic Adventures, November 1947. From the letters of Roger P. Graham I learned that he actually was a good friend of Millen Cooke. This was a fascinating co-incidence as I have tried to find more data on Millen Cooke from various sources, without much success. Graham introduced her to Meade Layne in 1947 and she became a member of BSRA, writing several articles for Round Robin. That she was an intriguing woman is attested by Graham in one of his letters:
”Anent Millen Cooke, I can´t say that I ”know” anything. Everything up to and including the present moment convinces me that she is a genuine adept without very many illusions. The thing that counts is that she is completely honest and reliable in her utterances, and also very cautious about them. She has asked me about you and your policy, and that was the reason I had you send her RR, so she could find out. (Letter to Meade Layne, December 28, 1947).

Roger Graham gave regular and generous economic support to Meade Layne for the printing of Round Robin, The Flying Roll and the Seance Memoranda from the Mark Probert seances. Graham sometimes participated in these sessions and in several letters they discuss the origin and validity of the persons (The Inner Circle) coming through Probert. Graham presented different theories but eventually came to the conclusion ”that the phenomena through Mark are genuine, and that there is no faking, conscious or subconscious, involved”. (Letter to Meade Layne, January 13, 1948). One theory that neither Meade Layne nor Roger Graham seems to have considered is that the names of the Inner Circle members could have been personas, fictional characters used by a secret lodge to hide their real identities.

The sixty letters between Meade Layne and Roger P. Graham 1946-1948 are historically important source documents that give in-depth knowledge of the first years of the UFO era and the personal lives and views of the fascinating writers and researchers of that time.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Kerstin Bäfverstedt, Pioneer of the Swedish UFO Movement

1957-1958 were the formative years of the Swedish UFO movement. Before 1957 there were no formal societies dedicated to the UFO enigma, only a few isolated individuals with a personal interest. Behind the Flying Saucers by Frank Scully was published in a Swedish edition 1951 (De flygande tefaten) and in 1955 Swedish ufologist K. Gösta Rehn had translated Donald Keyhoe´s Flying Saucers From Outer Space (Flygande tefat – observatörer från världsrymden).

In July 1957 Danish-born Ms Edith Nicolaisen founded the publishing house Parthenon in Helsingborg. The Board included three women, all active in the Theosophical Society (Adyar), Brita Rodosi, Rut Lindberg and Sonja Lilienthal. Parthenon published several of the classic contactee books of the 1950s and inspired the formation of UFO societies in Sweden. On March 19, 1958, Sällskapet för Interplanetariska Studier (The Society for Interplanetary Studies) was founded at Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg. It was initiated by the women in the Parthenon board but the the society was a very short-lived organization consisting mainly of university students.

After a visionary experience in 1950 Theosophist Jan-Erik Janhammar, together with his friends Gustaf Adolf Pettersson and Gösta Eklund, founded the lecture society Måndagsgruppen (The Monday Society) in Stockholm, 1951. It became a free and open minded forum where people from various religious, philosophical, esoteric and New Age groups met for lectures and discussions. This rather remarkable society celebrated 35 years of activity in 1986 after having arranged 1336 lectures.

Jan-Erik Janhammar

In March 1958 Måndagsgruppen faced the predicament of having no lecturer for the coming week. A suggestion was then made to invite Mrs Kerstin Bäfverstedt for a lecture on flying saucers. The lecture was a huge success and was held once again a week later, when enrollment lists were circulated for those who wanted to participate in the formation of a UFO society in Sweden. On March 23, 1958 Ifologiska Sällskapet (The Ifological Society) was formally founded and announced in the press. This society folded in 1969.

Kerstin Bäfverstedt in 1959

Before the founding date there had in fact been an informal group of UFO interested persons belonging to Måndagsgruppen, calling themselves The International Space Investigators (IS), later referred to as ”The Nine”. According to a an university essay on the history of Ifologiska Sällskapet by ufologist Heikki Virtanen, 1980, the members of the IS group were: Kerstin Bäfverstedt, Eric and Gunnel Nordquist, Greta Berg, Anna Lycke, Richard (?), Karin Lidelius, Britta Ekbom and Hilding Havrenius. Not much is known about this informal group and there is also some different claims regarding their founding. In the March-April 1959 issue of Flying Saucer Review (FSR)  a small note says that The International Space Investigators ”have just been formed”, headed by engineer Eric Nordquist. He also wrote a letter to Ray Palmer´s Flying Saucers, July 1959, presenting IS as ”a small, exclusive group living in Stockholm”. I haven´t been able to find any more data on IS and they were probably a short-lived informal group of friends interested in UFO research.

Kerstin Bäfverstedt (1909-2000) became fascinated by Theosophy, reading Helena P. Blavatsky in her early teens. This initiated a lifelong spiritual quest involving Spiritualism, esotericism, paranormal phenomena, alternative healing practices, UFOs a.o. Kerstin was married to Bo Bäfverstedt in 1936, MD, later Attending Physician and Professor at Södersjukhuset 1946-1979 (Stockholm South General Hospital). In 1957 Kerstin Bäfverstedt lectured on reincarnation at Stockholm Spiritualist Society, a lecture that was published as a series of articles in the magazine Spiritualisten: ”Människans liv. Från födelsen – genom döden – till återfödelsen” (The Life of Man. From Birth – Through Death – to Rebirth). The articles are partially based on the works of Max Heindel, founder of The Rosicrucian Fellowship. Kerstin was a member of the Swedish Section of The Rosicrucian Fellowship since 1956. She was also a frequent lecturer to local Spiritualist groups in Sweden.

During her many travels around the world Kerstin visited researchers and leaders of various societies involved in UFO and paranormal investigation. In the United States she became a good friend with several members of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF): Riley Crabb, Trevor James Constable and Dr. Ruth Drown. She was for many years Regional Director of BSRF and her letters and comments were sometimes published in Round Robin. The Journal of Borderland Research. During the 14-15 October 1961 Kerstin participated in The Giant Rock Space Craft Convention, organized by George Van Tassel.

Trevor James Constable, photo by Kerstin Bäfverstedt 1961

Kerstin´s photos from Giant Rock Convention 1961

Orfeo Anglucci speaking at Giant Rock

BSRF associate Dr. Ruth Drown (1891-1965) became a lifelong friend and they often visited each other in USA or Sweden. ”… she was my dearest friend that I will never forget” Kerstin recounted in a letter to Round Robin, May-june 1976. They corresponded between 1962-1965. Ruth Drown was an American chiropractic and proponent of Radionics which led to many controversies with the American Medical Association (AMA). She was also one of the associates of BSRF and lectured on the Kabbalah, which is evident from the front page of her book Radio-Vision. Scientific Milestone. A Research Activity of Drown Laboratories, published in 1960.

Dr. Ruth Drown

Riley Crabb comment on Ruth Drown in Round Robin

In 2013 the archive of Kerstin Bäfverstedt was generously donated to AFU by her daughter Eva Sundler Malmnäs. From a historical viewpoint it is interesting to notice that the ideas of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation, because of Kerstin Bäfverstedt, influenced the Swedish UFO movement. It also reinforces my assertion that the ufology in Sweden was to a large extent initiated by persons active in various esoteric and spiritualist societies.

Eva Sundler Malmnäs

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Archives Saved and Archives Lost

It is August 27, 1989. My AFU friend and colleague Anders Liljegren and I are traveling by car to an apartment in Bromma, outside Stockholm, where the late Swedish UFO research  pioneer K. Gösta Rehn spent his last years. He died on June 17, 1989 at the age of 98. Already in 1978 Rehn had donated part of his collection of books and magazines to AFU. He had also told his daughter, Greta Frankel, that the remaining archive, mainly consisting of correspondence, would go to AFU after his death.

K. Gösta Rehn

Eager and expectant we enter the apartment and are met by Greta Frankel. Stunned and surprised we find only a few remaining books and magazines on the shelfs. We naturally ask Greta Frankel where all the correspondence is placed? Shocked and dismayed we are told that, about a week ago, she had dumped all correspondence in a container at the back of the house. Disheartened we walk to the back of the house and in a container filled with lots of trash we locate 32 binders of correspondence, all in good condition. In a state of euphoria we load the binders into our car for transportation to AFU. During the travel back to Norrköping we praise fate for our almost incredible luck and success in this endeavor.

These 32 binders contain, especially for researchers, invaluable correspondence with UFO witnesses, ufologists and scientists from all over the world. A treasure trove of fascinating data giving personal insights into the UFO movement of the 1950s. 60s and 70s. As K. Gösta Rehn was the Swedish representative of APRO there are 220 letters exchanged between Rehn och Jim and Coral Lorenzen. Part of APRO correspondence was an important source of data for David Booher when writing his recently published No Return. The Gerry Irwing Story, UFO Abduction or Covert Operation?

I have never really understood people who find archives dull and unimportant. Perusing a recently donated archive at AFU is for me like entering a new and unknown universe full of fascinating information. In September 1989 I spent a week reading all the Rehn correspondence, resulting in a large biographical article and later a chapter in my first UFO book UFO – i myt och verklighet, 1993 (UFO – In Myth and Reality). By reading the complete correspondence file of K. Gösta Rehn I received an unprecedented insight into the personal life, research and theories of one of the real pioneers of Swedish UFO research.

Another pioneer in the Swedish UFO movement was Ms Edith Nicolaisen (1911-1986), founder of the publishing house Parthenon in July 1957. Edith Nicolaisen began corresponding with George Adamski in 1954 and the first book published in Swedish in October 1957, was Flying Saucers Have Landed by Desmond Leslie and George Adamski. Her second aim was to form as many UFO and new age groups in Sweden as possible. Parthenon published several of the classic contactees of the 1950s: George Adamski, Daniel Fry, Ray and Rex Stanford, Elisabeth Klarer. Edith Nicolaisen corresponded with hundreds of ufologists, contactees, esotericists and new-age activists from around the world between 1950-1986.  

In 1985 Carl-Anton Mattsson and Mats Nilsson, UFO-Sweden, became concerned for the future of Parthenon and the large archive of the publishing house. Mats Nilsson wrote a letter to Edith Nicolaisen resulting in a meeting, October 1985, at Nicolaisen´s apartment in Helsingborg. Edith was by then old and frail and during the meeting decided donating the Parthenon archive and in the future also the publishing house, provided Carl-Anton Mattsson and colleagues continue publishing UFO and New Age literature. On November 9, 1985 Carl-Anton Mattsson and I travelled to Helsingborg loading our hired van with lots of boxes filled with books and magazines. Several trips were made before the entire archive was safely housed at AFU. About three months later, February 28, 1986, Edith Nicolaisen died, 74 years old. The very extensive and voluminous correspondence from K. Gösta Rehn and Parthenon has been digitized by Leif Åstrand at AFU.

Edith Nicolaisen

Carl-Anton Mattsson at AFU, August 14, 2010

In the 1990s I began a systematic effort to locate old Swedish ufologists and representatives of UFO groups no longer active, to retrieve as many archives as possible. In this way much of Swedish UFO history was saved for future research. Practically all people contacted generously donated their archives but now and then my inquiry came to late and I was informed that all material had been burnt or dumped not long ago. A sad message when the collection was especially large or valuable. But many times Anders Liljegren and I could celebrate a happy ending to our efforts when travelling home to AFU with still another archive in the car.

The fate of an archivist. Anders Liljegren working hard with a new donation August 8, 2011

In the 1990s Clas Svahn, together with UFO-Sweden colleagues, expanded the archive retrievals to include several European countries, especially England. As there is no archive institution like AFU in England many British ufologists have donated their collections for preservation in Sweden. Large Schenker lorries are regularly unloading boxes of archival material at AFU, with donations from all over the world. We are especially grateful to be the custodians of the Flying Saucer Review (FSR) and Borderland SciencesResearch Foundation (BSRF) archives. Clas Svahn and colleagues have by now made at least 25 journeys across Europé in pursuit of archives. While I am writing this Clas Svahn and Carl-Anton Mattsson has just arrived at AFU after yet another successful trip to England. We are now expecting the next Schenker lorry with around 150 boxes of material.

Clas Svahn with the archive of Boris Jungkvist

313 boxes in London 2012, on their way to AFU

Although our efforts to save UFO, Fortean and paranormal archives around the world has been a success story we have also experienced failures and listened to the sad stories of dumped and destroyedarchives. Here just a few examples:

Ivan Troeng, first generation Swedish ufologist. We were promised his archive but relatives dumped the entire collection in a container 2004.

Sven Olov Larsson, first generation Swedish ufologist. His brother dumped the archive although we had been promised to have all material.

Bjarne Håkansson (Zacharias Brandt), active in Swedish ufology since early 1960s. He threw away his large personal archive but regret the mistake today.

Kolbjörn Stenødegård (1937-1997), Norwegian ufologist. Representatives from the municipality in Norway emptied his apartment and dumped a very large UFO archive.

Dr. Helmut Lammer, author of MILABS: Military Mind Control and Military Abductions (1999). In an email to me April 2011 Dr. Lammer claimed to have thrown away his entire archive.

My AFU colleagues and I hope that everyone reading this blog will not repeat the same tragic mistakes as shown above. If you do have material of interest to AFU or know of archives in danger of being destroyed, contact us as soon as possible. We will do our best to save the collection for future research.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Enigmatic Men In Black

It all began in late August 1971 in a town in East Midlands, England.  Jim Wilson had observed a white light moving slowly across the sky. Just an ordinary mundane sighting of no special interest but ufologist Derek James, a close colleague of Jenny Randles, made a standard follow up. He was rather surprised to find that two men in smart business suits and driving a black car har interviewed Jim Wilson. The men claimed to be from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and instructed the witness to forget the sighting as it had been identified as the Russian satellite Cosmos 408.

Why would the MoD send two men to interrogate a witness to such an ordinary sighting? Derek James checked the satellite information centre at Farnborough. At the time of the observation Cosmos 408 had been over Canada and had not passed over England at all. Now the witness contacted Derek once more and was rather alarmed because several nights in succession two unknown men in a black Jaguar car had parked outside his house and he was sure they were watching him. Derek James had a relative who was a high ranking police officer and a plan was hatched to check the car as they were perhaps planning a robbery.

A police car was asked to keep a look out and on October 19 and 20 the policemen watched the car outside Jim Wilson´s house. The car waited for about thirty minutes and then drove off. A check of the car registration found out that the vehicle did not exist and now the police became really interested. On October 21 a police patrol was ordered to bring in the occupants of the Jaguar for questioning. Following standard procedure the two policemen walked towards the car, one on either side. They noticed two smartly dressed men inside. They were just about to knock on the window when the car simply disappeared into nothingness in front of the astonished policemen. The area was examined but gave no clue to the disappearance. Neither car nor occupants were ever seen again. For rather obvious reasons a cover story was presented in the final police report.

Jenny Randles in 2016

This unusual Men In Black case was published by Derek James and Jenny Randles in Flying Saucer Review, vol. 23, no. 3, October 1977. A somewhat updated version was later published in Investigating the Truth Behind MIB the Men In Black Phenomenon (1997). These elusive gentlemen and their mysterious black cars have been reported during the whole of the UFO era and observed by both UFO witnesses and investigators. Gray Barker´s classic They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers (1956) put hem on the ufological map for ever.

When John Keel visited Sweden and my home in October 1976 we especially discussed the Men In Black, which Keel regarded as one of the really intriguing aspects of the UFO enigma. He had investigated many MIB encounters, personally trying to chase their strange cars many times as related in his last book The Eighth Tower:  “On a number of occasions I actually saw the phantom Cadillacs as advertised, complete with sinister-looking passengers in black suits. On Long Island, following the directions given me in an anonymous phone call, I pursued one of these cars down a dead-end road where it seemingly vanished into thin air (there were no side roads or turn-offs).” (p. 141).

During his years of active UFO investigations Keel presented different theories about the MIB. In 1967 he regarded them as definitely a menace, as revealed in a letter, July 18, 1967, to Jim and Coral Lorenzen of APRO: ”The MIB represent a very large terrestrial group who are allied with a very hostile UFO group. They are not connected with any goverment in any way… The people I am concerned with are Androids… manifactured entities controlled by a distant and unknown master… they are quite stupid in many respects.”

This last comment by John Keel is very apt. In many cases these elusive figures behave like some not too intelligent characters from a badly rehearsed amateur play. But the MIB obviously have different origins and agendas as evidenced by the hundreds of cases published. The men confiscating photos, films and other items from witnesses and ufologists are probably intelligence agents. In one of his first letters to me in 1984 Timothy Good mentioned his involvement with the MIB: ”Some of them are from various intelligence branches here on Earth, but other, I feel, are from extraterrestrial or Earth-based advanced groups. I have had MIB experiences myself, and have even taken a photo of a possible MIB and his car (it was rented of course). The photo of the man (who was not actually dressed in black) came out with a black or dark halo around his head, so that one can´t see his face at all… I´ve had my picture taken by shady characters in both the U.S. and U.S.S.R., and had an important notebook stolen from my motel room during one of my many trips to the U.S. Nothing else was taken, although cameras and lenses were in my camera bag on the bed.” (Letter, February 27, 1984).

Timothy Good

Men In Black encounters are not always threatening. Sometimes witnesses simply report odd looking salesmen or persons acting in strange ways in their vicinity. A Swedish ufologist who have reported such an incident is former chairman of UFO-Sweden, Thorvald (Bevan) Berthelsen. Some of these events were mentioned by Thorvald when I interviewed him on October 10, 1992. In the beginning of the 1970s he regarded UFOs as a "ridiculous, laughable" subject. But something happened in the summer of 1972 that was to change his life.

Interviewing Bevan Berthelsen at AFU, October 10, 1992

In the middle of one night in the summer of 1972 Thorvald left his bed sleepwalking. He put on his clothes, left his house and bicycled about two kilometer (1,4 miles) to an uninhabited plateau (Slätängen) with a few deserted crofts situated between the towns of Köping and Arboga. At this plateau he suddenly woke up, wondering what he was doing there in the middle of the night. Rather irrationally he picked a few flowers, found his bike and went back home where his wife naturally was curious to know what he was doing in the middle of the night, as he had been gone for several hours. Thorvald could give no logical answer as he was not a sleepwalker. To this day he is still puzzled by the event.

Thorvald (Bevan) Berthelsen 1992

About a week after this curious episode Thorvald became intensively fascinated by UFOs and borrowed all books he could find in the local library. He soon contacted the UFO-Sweden organization and formed the local group Köpings UFO-förening in January 1973. On March 11, 1973 Thorvald, together with three witnesses from his workplace, observed a cylindershaped object silently passing over Köping. No explanation was found to this observation which was reported in local media.

Thorvald Berthelsen and his wife lived in a country house with good views in all directions. On the same day his UFO observation was mentioned in the local newspaper a man knocks on their door. Bevan is met by a man in his thirties, dressed in a brown suit and white shirt. He has dark hair, appears suntanned and his eyes are slanted but still not Asian looking. The man ask Bevan how he is feeling and continue asking about directions. He says thank you and leave. "I thought, who the hell was that? I ran out and looked for him. The road was straight in both directions. If he had come walking I would have seen him. His eyes were slanted. That caught my attention. Afterwards I felt this experience was weird".

In the January-February 1973 issue of Round Robin. The Journal of Borderland Research, I read about a rather fantastic MIB case in Canada. It was a letter from J.L.S., Victoria, B.C. :
”… the experience of a young man we know personally, who lived in Victoria. He had been an UFO enthusiast for many years and had seen a number, too . Finally he caught one on the ground near the top of a local mountain. The occupants decided to take him into their confidence, and told him how they were getting control of communications, finance , industry and politics. Several of them, they told him, are living in Victoria and are married to earth women.  They are interesting young people in a crusade to " take over" at some future date. Inference was that this was going on in all the big cities. There was a U.S. submarine in port at the time and they invited him to come aboard. This is only a small part of what the young man told us here, but the upshot was that due to the lad's religious scruples he suddenly decided he couldn't go along with them. The result was a series of accidents which befell him. For several months he was in the hospital more than he was out of it! Finally he left town but we heard that he is still being hounded where he went. Can't get anything more out of his parents. They were UFO fans too, but now wont talk. A man came to the father's shop one day - in a  black suit! - and asked for Herman. When told the young man was in the Hospital the man said , 'Well ,we warned him.' These are rather simple people, Dutch immigrants, and this  development has been a severe jolt to them.”

In 1984 I decided to try a follow up on this case and wrote to Riley Crabb, editor of Round Robin, asking for the adress to the man in Canada. On May 27, 1984 I received a reply from Riley including  one of the letters from Canada. When I read Riley´s answer today, I become both surprised and distressed: ”I did find the 1973 file in the attic and am enclosing a Squance letter for you to follow up on. All this old material is going to the dump when I sell out here, hopefully later this year…”. Maybe much of his ”old material” did go to the dump but we at AFU succeeded in saving a major part of the BSRF archive in 2016. To me it is almost inconceivable and a riddle why Riley Crabb would want to dump his extremely important archive.

I wrote to the adress in Canada, John and Dorothy Squance in Victoria, B.C. and received a kind reply on June 21, 1984. John mentioned that he and his wife had conducted a discussion group in their home and about 1970 the young man´s parents started attending the group. The subject of UFOs often came up for discussion. On one occasion the parents told of their son´s experiences so he was invited to talk to the group. The young man attended once and spoke for about thirty minutes of what he had become involved in. ”He spoke of them enlisting a force of several hundred young people who would help them bring about the new dispensation they were planning. It was all to be top secret for a time while their leaders infiltrated finance, economics and industry… The program they said was being initiated in all the larger cities.”

According to John Squance the boy became disillusioned and quit having anything more to do with the ”space people”. It was then that the harassment began. The young man was hospitalized on at least two occasions because of rather inexplicable accidents. The father told John some time later that a man had come into his store asking where the boy was. When the father said ”in the hospital”, the reply was ”Well we told him to keep his mouth shut”. In the letter to me John said that both the young man and his father were now dead. In a follow up letter July 19, 1984 John mentioned that the young man died of ”a mixture of alcohol and drugs. Possibly mental harassment”. This information makes it rather likely that the MIB story was a paranoid fantasy, the result of the young man´s drug abuse and the black suited man who entered the father´s shop some local mafia leader involved in illegal drug trafficking. Unless, of course, this is evidence of covert activities of an unknown mafia group, earth-based or extraterrestrial?

Although the Men In Black is definitely a serious and possibly dangerous aspect of UFO research I must relate a rather amusing story how the Men In Black became a help to UFO-Sweden. It is told in the autobiography of Mats Nilsson, one of UFO-Sweden´s oldboys still active as board member. In the 1970s and 80s a very eccentric old gentleman, Karl-Gustav Porath, always attended the annual UFO-Sweden conferences. He placed himself in the front row with a large tape recorder. Porath always had fantastic UFO contact stories to relate, unfortunately often to the visiting journalists, which gave UFO-Sweden unwanted publicity. One of his stories told of how he could make ordinary flies fly in military formation.

Karl-Gustav Porath

 In 1979 UFO-Sweden arranged a large UFO exhibition and lectures at the National Museum of Science and Technology, Stockholm. When Mats Nilsson and Håkan Ekstrand from UFO-Sweden discovered that Karl-Gustav Porath was there as usual they came up with a brilliant idea. Mats and Håkan approached Porath, who was deadly afraid of the Men In Black, and told him the MIB was among the public, disguised as journalists. Porath was very glad to get this information and didn´t talk to any reporter about his experiences. Mission accomplished!