ARCHIVES FOR UFO RESEARCH
Archives for UFO Research: Personal recollections of preserving the history and folklore of UFO's
Reviewed and updated, January 2003. Previous versions of the history was published in The New Ufologist, Number 3, 1995; in the Proceedings of the Sign Historical Group UFO history workshop (edited by Thomas Tulien), pp. 166-174, 1999, and on the UFO-Sweden web site, www.ufo.se. Pictures come from the AFU Picture Library.
by Anders Liljegren
Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have existed as a widespread international, social phenomenon for almost fifty years. On national or regional levels, sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena certainly have existed for thousands of years. The folklore of signs and portents in the sky is enormous. Sweden, as one of the globe's several hundred nations, has a long and detailed history of involvement with UFO-type phenomena, official/military as well as civilian/idealistic.
Archives for UFO research (AFU) has chosen as its main objective to document and preserve the history of UFO research and ufology, particularly the Swedish and Scandinavian part of that history. This article details personal insights from 'the AFU project' since the start, twenty-two years ago. No doubt AFU is now one of the largest repositories for UFO data in the world. It is financed not by membership fees but by engaged and supporting sponsors. It is one of the world's few UFO resource and research centers with daily opening hours and a knowledgeable staff. Maybe AFU could be a model for similar national or regional archives, libraries and research/info centers around the globe?
Archives for UFO research started as an idea in 1973. Then named simply 'Arbetsgruppen för ufologi' (The study group for ufology), it's origin was a common occurrence in ufology: three people - Håkan Blomqvist, Kjell Jonsson and the author - who broke out of a larger group discontented with the ideology and public image of that group. UFO-Sweden, the large group in question, had been founded in 1970 by enthusiast Carl-Axel Jonzon to unite and coordinate the work of local Swedish UFO groups. After three years of work for UFO-Sweden, the three of us felt that research, which was our main interest, was of secondary importance in the UFO-Sweden scheme. Instead UFO-Sweden, and in particular its founder/chairman, made a priority of public opinion-making (often with ill-founded, even esoteric, data), and Keyhoe-style political fighting against non-understanding military investigators (believed to be administering a non-proven government 'cover-up').
The feeling in our small group was that UFO research could only be promoted by learning and knowing the facts, if there were any..? Of course, one man's fact is often another man's non-fact, but generally we were striving for a more intellectual research climate, based on the scientific method. Particularly, we wanted to separate the subject from the occult and contactee-oriented philosophy that so permeated Swedish ufology (here often called 'ifology', because the objects under study were 'proven' to be interplanetary )... Our 'enemies' - you soon find you have 'enemies' if you declare a firm non-New Age opinion - regarded us as unrealistic book-worms. Maybe so. Time has proven, however, that our line of thought had the power to make our interest in UFO's survive while many of our adversaries sooner or later grew tired of ufology or went missing in the fogs of the New Age.
Phase one: the library
Anyway, 'finding the facts' wasn't easy. Where go to? Edista, a Stockholm book shop owned by Bertil Kuhlemann, who imported Anglo-American books, became one of our main information sources. Considerable parts of my modest salary as a young computer programmer, and my two AFU colleagues pay as librarians, were spent on books and magazine subscriptions. Despite this, large parts of the literature was unavailable to us and to many of our colleagues.
The Danish UFO Center created by Willy Wegner was a model to us. Wegner was augmenting a central library collection of UFO and "off-beat literature". We wanted, however, a more open attitude towards our colleagues; a collection that was openly available to others on a somewhat broader scale.
Establishing a postal lending library for UFO literature soon became our main project. In particular, it was Kjell Jonsson's idea. From 1975 people anywhere in Sweden could join AFU, pay a small annual fee, and borrow books via the postal service. Our theory was that newcomers should have a much better (and cheaper!) chance to learn the basics. We started with 350 books in Kjell's small one-room apartment, a majority of which were donated by Stockholm ufologist Lennart Johansson.
Soon the project grew and Kjell filled his closets and his basement store. Each year several hundred books were dispatched to near and far off places all over our country. Believe it or not, most of them were returned! Our newsletters and library lists were mailed to slightly less than one hundred supporters. The operation ran on a shoe-string budget with materials donated by ourselves or by kind colleagues. A few years later, in 1977, Kjell graduated from the library high school with the masterpiece of his life: a 144-page bibliography of Swedish UFO literature, reprinted and published by AFU in 1978.
My own interest in UFOs had returned in 1976 after a short period of not even wanting to hear a certain three-letter acronym. Recovering from 'years of denial', and reshaped into an even more skeptical ufologist I took over from Håkan Blomqvist as editor of the AFU Newsletter (from 1979 published in English). I threw myself into the study of the released Swedish government archives on the 1930s ghost flier wave at the Stockholm War Archives. I also located and published the newsfile of TT (the Swedish news agency) on the 1946 ghost rockets wave. If people only had an inkling of all the interesting things hidden at our public archives...
The years 1978 and -79 I spent on other large projects which were educational: a statistical study of 602 Swedish high-strangeness reports and the coding of 1.000 Swedish cases into CUFOS' database UFOCAT. This work helped to further cement my ideas in the UFO field. Ufology should be built on large files of well-researched facts, not on rumors and belief in heavenly saviors. I despised the rumor mongers and published hard-hitting, critical reviews of some Swedish books of such tendency.
Phase two: a new home for the library
1979-80 was an important period of transition for AFU. Phase two started. Kjell Jonsson grew tired of endless hours of managing our lending library. He suffered hard from asthma. (Unfortunately, his short life ended in an asthma attack in 1986).
The responsibility for the collection transferred to myself and to Sven-Olov Svensson, one of the most frequent users of the library. The library (by now more than 800 titles) moved 130 kilometers to Norrkoping and into a 38 square-meter basement locality which several people had keys to, and shared the costs for. Now, AFU transformed into a foundation with a small board of directors and, finally, the meaning of the "AFU" acronym was changed to Arkivet för UFO-forskning (Archives for UFO Research) to mark the broadening of our scope from being a pure library to becoming an archive and library.
Since we had now underlined the archives aspect of our work, our new direction started a landslide of donated and deposited materials, not only books and magazines. An increasing percentage of English material in the AFU Newsletter stimulated many international contacts. A steady flow of exchange publications has made the collection of 'serial publications' on the UFO subject one of the most extensive in the world.
The Rehn donation
Swedish veteran ufologist and UFO book author K.Gösta Rehn was walking into an age of darkness, slowly becoming a blind man (an awful fate for an intellectual, educated man!). In 1978 he donated large parts of his book collection to us. Eleven years later, shortly after Rehn's death, Håkan Blomqvist and I found thirty-two binders of correspondence and working papers in a garbage room behind his former home. If we had come one or two days later the papers would have vanished forever, marooned on a Stockholm garbage dump!
Rehn's correspondence files were of no interest to his daughter, thus it couldn't be of interest to anyone else... This attitude towards the preservation of history is something every archivist knows about and learns to expect. Yet, every time it happens you are dumbfounded. How many similar, invaluable 'interest collections' are lost each year, every week? The Rehn case was a lesson to us: Never be shy to ask for a possible donation and do it now, don't wait until tomorrow! We even designed a special will form for potential future donors.
Rehn maintained a lively world-wide correspondence with most of ufology's bright stars: from James McDonald to Philip Klass. He was APRO's Swedish representative since 1959 and a close friend of the Lorenzens, who even paid for the ticket to visit them at their home and offices in the US. His very personal correspondence with Coral Lorenzen provides a unique insight into the daily work and problems at APRO headquarters. With the APRO files seemingly sold into private oblivion (a murder on the history of ufology..) the AFU archives may have a unique gem. In Coral's letters to Rehn we often learn facts and behind-the-scenes rumours not written about in the APRO Bulletins.
The GICOFF archives
GICOFF (Goteborgs Informations Center för Oidentifierade Flygande Foremal...did you catch that..?), was one of the first serious UFO research groups in Sweden. In 1978 GICOFF disbanded after ten years of excellent field investigative work and publication of their magazine GICOFF-Information. Many GICOFF investigations were translated and published in the excellent (British) Flying Saucer Review.
In 1981 and 1985, most of the GICOFF files were deposited with AFU, including clippings, report forms, investigative notes, magazines and the GICOFF book library. Later, a lion's part of the GICOFF photo files were also transfered to us.
Yet another rare collection of old UFO books and magazines was deposited by C.O. Holmqvist, in October 1983. This included magazines such as BSRA's The Round Robin and Fate back to the 1940's and early 1950's. Most books were hardbound and preserved in plastic binders making very good copies for our lending library.
That same year a new specialized UFO classification system was designed for the library collection. Unlike most information retrieval coding schemes Ufocode, is built on mnemonic codes and can be detailed down to a fourth level, even providing search codes for well known cases such as the Hill encounter or the Mantell plane-crash. In the summer months of 1983, the 1.163 titles then in our collection were classified according to the new scheme.
Ufocode is still alive and expanded with new codes. Each title added to our library is labeled with from one up to twenty or thirty such codes that describe main themes touched upon in the book. Each year, a supplement of acquired titles is published with an average of 100-150 new titles. The library enjoys regular donations by generous authors such as Loren E. Gross, Thomas E. Bullard and Marc Hallet. If you have spare/review copies of your own published book(s) or booklet(s) please make a donation to the AFU collection knowing that it will be preserved for the future! (In return you will be put on our mailing list, free of charge).
The library has very, very limited resources to buy recently published literature. We are particularly 'stocked' on books published in the 1950's and 1960's while 'low' on books published in the 1980's and 1990's. One of our grandiose long-term aims is to save two, even three, copies of each published edition of every UFO book in the world... Well, as always: we aim for the sky - and maybe we will reach the tree-tops.
Phase three: the age of IT
The mid-1980's started phase three of our history: information technology (IT). In the fall of 1984 a much-needed new photo copier was bought. This suddenly made many impossible projects more realistic. Up to 1995 more than 70.000 copies had been made, as a service to users of the AFU library, and in building our own collection of UFO reporting and mythology. Today (2003) we have a fine new copier provided by UFO-Sweden.
A year later came our first PC: an IBM-compatible Victor XT. It was used to produce our newsletters, and to build dBase files of reports, references and mailing lists. All of the 1946 ghost rocket cases in Swedish government files - located and first studied in 1984 - formed the basis for the ScanCat report file, which is steadily growing. In1994 one of our sponsors kindly donated 10.000 SEK for buying second-hand computers and for a short period AFU owned no less than five computers which were used in our ALU projects (more details below).
On the 'personnel side' our resources grew, too. In 1984, librarian Håkan Blomqvist moved from the Stockholm area to strengthen our small Norrköping team and Clas Svahn, a young journalist, joined AFU's board that same year. Clas has, since the start of the library in Kjell's small flat, been one of AFU's most avid supporters, and has worked tirelessly to persuade the donors behind many of our major acquisitions.
From early 1987 Sven-Olov Svensson increased his contribution to AFU by starting to work six hours-a-day in the archive. Sven-Olov is doing the main part of our routine work: dispatching book parcels, answering the phone, adding new collections to the archives system, and mailing copies to researchers. His idealistic, unsalaried ground work has, to a large extent, made it possible for many of us to make effective use of the collection and - for my own part - it has meant that my curiosity for the subject has not been completely crushed by the tiring day-by-day routines necessary at an institution such as ours.
A unique collection
In 1986 Edith Nicolaisen, enthusiastic Swedish publisher of contactee-type and 'New Age' literature, died. Nicolaisen had started the Parthenon publishing house in 1957. She published Swedish editions of books by George Adamski, Daniel Fry, Wilbert Smith, Morris K. Jessup, Max B. Miller, Ray & Rex Stanford, and others.
The Parthenon company was taken over, step by step, by Carl-Anton Mattsson, who kindly arranged for the editorial and personal archives to be deposited with AFU. Parthenon and Edith Nicolaisen left a truly fantastic collection of contactee books, magazines, manuscripts, administrative files, photos and correspondence. Particularly the correspondence files (some 30 binders) provide many unique insights into the American and international contactee syndrome of the 1950's and 1960's. The collection (now sorted by name of the correspondent) ought to be of particular interest to students of the history of religion, contactees and UFO cults.
The Parthenon collection underlines AFU's policy of saving everything of potential interest without regard of 'objective value'. It is possible to approach any subject with an open mind and research it, even contactees and cults. Science puts no value on the subject in itself, it only requires you to use scientific methodology. Our collection has been used by a few university graduates, for instance Pia Andersson of Stockholm University who is writing treatises (history of religion) on the Swedish UFO and New Age movement and the subject of 'astro-archaelogy' (the belief spearheaded by Erich von Däniken that Earth was visited by space people in ancient times).
Return to UFO-Sweden
In 1986 AFU rejoined UFO-Sweden (- remember, AFU started as a break-away from UFO-Sweden in 1973 -) now becoming the archives unit of the very same national group. It was felt that UFO-Sweden - under new chairmen - had successively changed its ideology to become a more serious, investigative group, much in line with our own ideas. Since1991 Clas Svahn, from the AFU board, is the chairman of UFO-Sweden.
Despite close ties to UFO-Sweden, a contract still guarantees the AFU foundation a special status as a separate unit. If UFO-Sweden will sink (not a realistic thought at this point of time!) AFU will sail along on it's own. AFU does not need a large membership to survive but does, definitely, benefit from having a 1.300 membership organization (UFO-Sweden) backing us up.
AFU has systematically collected organizational files from the more than 120 local UFO-Sweden activity groups in existence since 1970. AFU has also developed, or taken over, files on every other (known) Swedish UFO / IFO / New Age organization, ufologist, researcher and journalist interested in UFO's. Håkan Blomqvist's work on this side of the AFU collection, in the 1990s, has helped document ufology as a social, national, 'popular movement'. Today, Clas Svahn carries on the torch in this area, with new archives added regularly.
The 'Blue' and 'Orange' files
In 1987 we started to borrow, and copy, the military UFO records from the Research Institute of Defence (FOA), in Stockholm. The files contain more than 2.000 reports investigated by the military forces since 1947. The copying project was, in the beginning, an offshoot of our Project 1946, the study of documents and reports on the Swedish ghost rockets reported one year after the end of WWII. Project 1946 was described in detail in two BUFORA monographs published in 1987 and 1988. We are still looking forward to finding the time and resources to publish the detailed results from that project in English translation.
The copying of military reports inspired us to start, in 1988, a chronological report file of all known Swedish UFO incidents, which, by now, has grown to become perhaps the most essential part of the archive. As mentioned, we started off with the military reports, then with duplicates and copies from our news clipping master collection, and with the excellent report and investigative files deposited by GICOFF of Gothenburg.
In 1989 the annual UFO-Sweden national conference decided to deposit UFO-Sweden's entire report archive with AFU. We now continuously receive reports from the UFO-Sweden report center, and it's accredited field investigators (trained at an annual examination weekend, traditionally in the autumn). The number of Swedish reports usually tally between 300 and 500 each year. This figure is, of course, only a statistic before the reports have been analyzed, and, most often, explained. AFU and UFO-Sweden make it a point of saving all reports, even the explained ones, to learn from the mistakes (the witnesses' and ours) and to develop our analytical procedures.
A whole range of other sources (books, magazines, organizational archives, etc) have since been culled for UFO reports. All cases found have been copied and sorted into the main file, which now comprises more than one hundred twenty binders and (probably) number 15.000+ cases. Since the report file is kept in blue file folders we sometimes refer to it as our 'Blue Archive' -- of course sort of a travesty of 'Blue Book'... The report file is supplemented by a substantial file of post-war almanacs and a collection of topographical maps that cover a major part of Swedish territory. AFU board member Andreas Ohlsson has an agreement with a Stockholm map shop to receive free copies of out-of-date maps as new editions are put on sale.
There is also a substantial file of submarine (USO) press reports and documents, detailing the wave of underwater violations of Scandinavian waters in the last 20-25 years (by some believed to have some connection to UFOs).
AFU (and its predecessors) has had an uninterrupted subscription with a Stockholm news clipping agency (AB Pressurklipp, now Observer Media Intelligence) since 1970. This world unique (?) file (- called our 'Orange' file since it is kept in orange file folders -) has more recently been supplemented with copies and original cuttings from many other private & official collections, to complete our coverage of the pre-1970 era. I estimate that the size of the clipping file to be at least 30.000 news articles in Swedish.
To complete our own previous collection of files of the 1933-1937 (ghost flier) and 1946 (ghost rocket) reports from Swedish news media and the Military Archives in Stockholm we have made copies of the official Norwegian files on the ghost fliers located by our friend and correspondent Ole Jonny Braenne. We also have a microfilm copy of the Finnish documents on the ghost fliers, provided by Kalevi Mikkonen.
Major acquisitions in the early 1990s
In the nineteen-nineties Archives for UFO research has grown more than ever. Clas Svahn, Håkan Blomqvist and other supporters have toured Sweden, acquiring collections, large and small. Some important recent additions include:
The Adlerberth collection of books and newsclipping files: Roland Adlerberth, a Gothenburg librarian and translator, bought and reviewed most UFO & fortean books of the fifties and sixties -- a mint condition collection now bought and added to AFU in 1993/94. Adlerberth spent his Sundays cutting everything fortean, ufological and phenomenological from Swedish and Scandinavian newspapers. This monumental collection of post-war fortean effort -- carefully sorted into hundreds of small, brown, subject-labeled envelopes -- is now one of our most valued gems, donated by the Adlerberth family. Sends fortean shivers down our spine...
The "Brevcirkeln" library: Brevcirkeln (disbanded in 1994) was an esoteric group that existed for 30 years, publishing a lively, duplicated journal (known as Brevcirkeln and, later, Arcanum). The group built a substantial lending library, similar to AFU's, but more occult-oriented. The collection, parts of which were donated to AFU, includes much of the theosophical and esoteric literature that so influenced early contacteeism and Anglo-American ufology in the 1950's and 1960's. In 2003 we are planning to catalogue some previously un-catalogued parts of this collection.
Parts of the SUFOI magazine archives: Skandinavisk UFO Information (SUFOI) of Copenhagen (the most respected investigation group in Denmark, founded in the late fifties) restructured their magazine archives in the mid-90's, and asked AFU to take over many of the less needed, more odd titles. This resulted in more than 100 kilos of rare and new magazines added to our shelves. Many of the magazines date back to the 1950's.
The David Clarke airship collection: In competition with transatlantic collectors AFU, in 1993, bought David Clarke's 1.300-page collection (four file folders) of data on worldwide (mainly US, UK and New Zealand) airship sightings in the 1896-1913 time span. Although AFU couldn't offer as much money as US competitors, we could offer a unique public availability of the documents. With no other European bidder David Clarke decided to let the collection remain in Europe. It supplements our documentation on similar waves of what might be termed "technological imitations". Since placed with us Clas Svahn has made backup copies of the material that have gone back to the seller/donator.
The Mandagsgruppen tape library: In December 1994 AFU took over a collection of about 500 audio tapes and audio cassettes bought from Jan-Eric Janhammar. Janhammar taped a large part of the more than 1.400 lectures before his 'Monday group' (Mandagsgruppen), in Stockholm. The tapes include early lectures on flying saucers, fortean subjects and the occult, since the inception of the lecture group in 1951. We have catalogued but a small part of the collection and transferred the oldest parts of the material on roll tapes, to cassettes.
Phase four: a new, bigger archive
Our growth soon made it necessary to find larger quarters than the 38 square meters we had had since 1980. Ideas on how to create more space for new shelves had finally exhausted. To work two or three people in-between the tightly-spaced shelves in the "old" archive was an experience that sometimes got on your nerves.
Some 200 meters from the old archives we found our new premises. In early 1993 the place was soon to be evacuated as the former administrative archives of my place of work (a real estate company). The archive had one room full of good, solid shelves. We managed to rent the place at a very decent monthly cost. The 75 square meters were cleaned from spiders and twenty years of dirt; painted, and a new floor laid. In late June 1993 we moved most of the collections (by then displaced at three places in Norrköping) to the new place.
Of course, the new center offered a much better working environment than we had before before. It has a conference corner, refrigerator, coffee machine, desks for our own work, for sorting and for visiting researchers, computers, a modern copier, tape recorders, telephone, and a fax machine.
"Who pays the bills?", you might ask. Some paranoid people believe it's the CIA.
As AFU treasurer for many years I have counted almost every 'krona' that has passed through AFU so I am the person to know the real situation. The first twenty years our costs were fairly modest and were, mostly, paid for by the four-headed board, from our very own private pockets. The annual turnover has been between 35.000 and 100.000 SEK. My own part of AFU financing, during these years, has been quite substantial. Yes, you guessed it: I own no house, no summer-cottage, no car and no sailing-boat in the nice Swedish archipelago! Life is a choice, and a chance.
With "phase four", and trebled costs, the economic situation would have been impossible. This is where a March 1993 UFO-Sweden conference decided to create a sponsor pool, whereby private citizens and companies, interested in furthering UFO research, can sponsor Archives for UFO Research. Today, AFU has agreements with some twenty-five ufologists and UFO groups, each contributing between 50 and 500 SEK per month.
The total regular monthly income from sponsors amount (2003) to roughly 4.000 SEK, covering the lion's share of our basic expenses (including rents, power, telephone and 30 % of the cost for the clipping subscription, shared with UFO-Sweden). The remaining budget is filled with fees and money from sales (mostly antiquarian sales of surplus second-hand books and magazines). Picture library sales to media sources may be a promising source of substantial future income, where we work in collaboration with UFO-Sweden.
The creation of the sponsor group also made it possible to retain our "old" archive. The oldest premises is now used for storage of surplus material (some of it for sale) and for seldom-used collections.
The picture library consists of the combined picture library (photos, negatives, slides, sketches, paintings, etc) from the UFO-Sweden, GICOFF and Parthenon collections. A most valuable picture collection was recently donated by the heirs of Eugen Semitjov, a Swedish journalist (of Russian descent) who wrote a series of books on UFO and space research and who traveled the world with his sketch-block and camera. The picture library is at present (2003) being scanned and put on digital media by Håkan Ekstrand.
AFU would welcome monetary and/or material support from international sponsors, which could add much to our efficiency as an already established information center. We would especially like to engage in IT technology (such as CD-ROM or microfilming techniques to safe-guard our collections), the building of indexed databases (why not an international annual index of the UFO literature..?). This would require both technology and skilled personnel. We have the infrastructure but not the money.
1993-1998: Full time 'ALU' staff
Working full-time as a 'ufologist' is anyone's dream if you're 'taken in' by this stimulating subject. This became possible for some unemployed Swedes, many of them interested in the UFO subject. With the high unemployment rates in the early 1990s, our government started a new scheme, under the acronym 'ALU'. Unemployed people were offered four-to-six-month period jobs with unions, associations and organizations doing "work that would not normally be done". Salary (= normal unemployment remunerations) was paid by the government.
In March 1993 AFU applied for an ALU project and had no problem getting it. In a five year period about 40 people were active for 4-6 month periods on our project(s). Most of them work/worked in our archives, others with computers (their own, or AFU-owned) at home. At times we had, simultaneously, six-seven people employed.
The ALU staff worked on different projects: paint work and putting on a new floor in the archives; sorting and copying clippings and other materials for the report and clipping files; editorial and translation work; follow-up case investigations via telephone; transcription of cassette tape interviews to paper and data media; creating a database searchable via 'Ufocodes' for our book library; et cetera.
Adding UFO cases to our ScanCat database was, however, the top priority project with dozens of people employed. All known Swedish reports up until 1995 were recorded in dBase/Access format. The ScanCat file comprises about 12.000 cases with reports that have come to us since 1995 still unrecorded.
Becoming a 'professional' archive
Since the early 1980's AFU has slowly sought an active association with 'the archives world at large'. AFU is listed in several Swedish archive directories and are establishing contacts with local and national archives, archive unions and archivists. In 1993 Archives for UFO research became a member of both a regional and a national organization of 'popular movement archives' (folkrörelsearkiv). AFU's work, in documenting ufology as a fairly young and developing social movement, is known and respected by archivists all over Sweden.
On Oct 25, 1993, "The Board of Private Archives" of the National Archives in Stockholm decided to grant us 6.500 SEK to pay for materials for our ALU projects, such as audio cassettes, copy paper and envelopes for our picture library.
Through the years, the AFU team has attempted to 'guide' mainstream ufology (in Sweden) onto more critical, skeptical tracks. This line of thought runs through hundreds of articles written for many publications, particularly for the glossy 'UFO-Aktuellt' magazine published by UFO-Sweden. Our investigative activities - sometimes regarded as 'overly skeptical' - has not won admiration by followers of contactee and New Age groups. However, the advantage of having most of the facts literally 'behind your back' (such as in our archives shelves) can never be underestimated.
In fact, working with AFU sometimes gives you the feeling of suffering from 'information sickness' -- that you have TOO MUCH data to make a meaningful picture of reality! That feeling is partly related to the relative lack of time for personal long-term projects (having a regular job as a first priority).
Major donations in the late 1990s
AFU has taken over a number of collections from the families and heirs of ufologists who have passed on. This is often accepted with gratitude by the heirs who may not know what to do with the collection their relative has left behind. Sometimes the donation was combined with a minor payment, for instance to compensate for the expected price of a book collection from a second-hand bookshop.
In 1995 we took over the collection of our deceased friend Åke Franzén, an early ufologist who searched Swedish newspapers for ghost flier data and who traveled to the US and West Virginia where he spent weeks in the company of John A. Keel and eye witnesses of the Mothman fame. Another great donation came from the heirs of Brage Jansson, particularly a large audio cassette library; In 1999 Clas Svahn brought several important collections to us: the Ernst Linder collection, particularly of clippings from the 1960s; the Gunnar Lindberg collection of contactee and channeling material (he was the Swedish representative of the Eduard 'Billy' Meier group and translator of their materials); a collection of New Scientist from well known Swedish author/astronomer Peter Nilson, etc
Other ufologists and ex-ufologists have graciously donated, or allowed us to copy, parts of their archives: Lars Andersson and Sven Schalin (who maintained a lively correspondence with each other, and with other early ufologists); Torgny Ridderberg and Meit Henriksson have regularly sent us parcels with material from their book shelves; Sören Broman, Ulf Ekstedt, Minerva Lalander and Inga-Lill Wallin have all given us substantial book collections. After Håkan Blomqvist left 'active ufology' in the late 1990's he has placed the lion part of his UFO book collection with AFU. AFU has also received organizational and group material from the UFO societies of Köping, Nyköping and Enköping, all very active since the 1970's.
From abroad came a number of other collections such as the magazine library of Norwegian skeptic Kolbjørn Stenødegård. UFO author and picture library owner Hilary Evans visited us in 1996 and promised us a major donation of continental European books which Clas Svahn and Håkan Ekstrand brought to Sweden in year 2000. AFU has had regular contact with, and donations of documents, booklets and microfilms from Jan Aldrich, founder of Project 1947 (now mainly a mailing list and web site on the Internet).
Willy Wegner (who's ideas had inspired us from the beginning) donated large files of slides, UFO magazines and a major file of Danish newspaper clippings from the 1950s, -60s and 70s. Per Andersen, another regular Danish supporter of AFU, and now ex-chairman of SUFOI, donated packages crammed with magazines, booklets and books (1999). Heikki Virtanen and other Finnish ufologists have graciously donated copies of the yearbooks of the Finnish UFO Research group. We are also very grateful for regular donations of material from US ufologists such as Mark Rhodegier and the J.Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, Lucius Farish (UFO Newsclipping Service), Loren E. Gross (his series of UFO history booklet), Richard F. Haines, Richard W. Heiden, Donald A. Johnson (UFOCAT) Willy Smith (Unicat Project) and Tom Tulien (The Sign Historical Group Oral History Project).
Maurizio Verga brought a number of Italian goodies - including the 'UFO in Italia' book series - to the AFU archive when he visited us in 1997 in the company of a film team. British UFO bestseller author Timothy Good visited us in the autumn of 1998 and was so impressed with our work that he donated 1.000 pounds which we used to buy full runs of The Anomalist and The Journal of Scientific Exploration, plus about twenty American university dissertations. The kind of material we would otherwise not have been able to acquire.
Phase five: With a new library into the 21st century
The influx of material has generated a steady need for new shelves. At the end of 2002 we own about 500 meters of shelves, having spent about 33.000 SEK (about 3.500 USD) during the last ten years on new and used IKEA shelves. Half of this sum was spent in the past two years. The summer 2002 delivery from IKEA filled out empty spaces in our main archive, after the reference and lending library had been moved to a new library facility in the neighboring house. AFU now has three facilities along the same street: The main archive (A) of 75 square meters; the new library (B) of 62 square meters and the old store-room (C) of 30 square meters. One fine day in the future we hope to find one equally cheap, large facility where everything can be housed under the same roof...
The collections are continuously restructured and moved to use our space in the best way possible, but we now have a very fine library with enough space for housing even a twice-as-big collection of books. All our collections of books, booklets & documents will be sorted alphabetically, with an effective Access database, being developed right now, to help us search for literature on a particular subject, aided by Ufocode classifications.
The 2000-2002 period has meant acquisition of three major collections and a number of other valuable material:
The Solna Astronomiska Förening collection: Since the late 1960s the Solna Astronomiska Förening, headed by Erik Fredriksson, published the SAF Bulletin, a mimeographed newsletter of Swedish UFO & fortean clippings, distributed all over the world as an exchange publication. The group received thousands of foreign 'mag' issues, which are now in the hands of AFU. The Access database of serial publications was finalized and put on AFU:s new web site.
The Bruno R Ericsson collection: After a childhood UFO experience Stockholm resident Bruno R. Ericsson maintained a lifelong interest in the subject. UFO-Sweden and AFU bought the collection for about 10.000 SEK from his heirs and restored it from the damages from a lifetime in a cigar-smoking environment. Among the 1.500 volume book collection, there were several hundred new (to the AFU library) UFO book titles, particularly contactee literature (such as a complete set of the Wendell Stevens/UFO Archives hardcover books). There was also a rich collection of commercial UFO- and UFO-related videos (including also a video tape machine for the American NTSC system), and microfilmed copies of Bruno Ericssons documents and theories about UFO propulsion (about 2.000 pages).
The Norwegian collection: Starting in the autumn of 2001 AFU has received about 400 kiloes of Norwegian material from (or via) UFO-Norways new chairman Ole Jonny Braenne. Some of the collection comes from Ole Jonny's own library, but a large chunk also comes from deceased ufologists Finn W. Kalvik and Kolbjørn Stenødegård, both leading men in Norwegian ufology during the 1970s and 1980s. Except for a major collection of magazines and books AFU has ordered the Finn W. Kalvik personal correspondence files into ten binders. Finn Kalvik ran his own UFO group (UFO-Bergen), was a leading figure and magazine editor for Norsk UFO Center (NUFOC) and UFO-Norge, and he was (since 1972) the Norwegian representative for the Danish SUFOI in Norway.
Other donations: The Hilary Evans book donation of mainly French and Spanish literature (2000); continued deliveries of material from AFU board members Håkan Blomqvist (books and document binders) and Clas Svahn (e.g. video and audio tapes); a collection of UFO literature acquired from the family of UFO skeptic Gerhard Köppen; a collection of British UFO magazines bought from Eileen Fletcher; the collections from Rune Rydebrandt and Gunnar Schelin, two veteran ufologists.
One of the 'ALU staff' people from 1994, Sussie Andersson, came back to the archives in year 2000, now working as an idealistic volunteer two days each week. Sussie has made a remarkable work on going through a number of huge clipping collections donated to AFU, to check them against our master file of clippings, then adding copies or originals of all new items to the master file (the 'Orange' file).
Some figures on the present Archives for UFO research: 500 meters of material, including: books and booklets (40 meters, 3.500 titles, 5.000 book copies), report archives (12 meters, 15.000 cases, primarily Swedish and Scandinavian), clipping files (10 meters, 35.000 articles mainly in Swedish), personal and organizational archives (30 meters), magazine collection (75 meters, 700 boxes), audio cassettes (some 1.500), videos (an expanding collection!) and picture library (possibly two thousand pictures).
New donations to the archive often result in duplicate or even triplicate copies. AFU always has a limited supply of spare copies of books and about 40-50 shelf meters of duplicate magazines available for exchange, or sale. Write us, stating your needs (and exchange objects). Due to costs for postage, packing and bank exchange we tend to avoid direct sales beyond the Scandinavian countries.
Prescription for success
AFU has been a fairly successful undertaking and we feel we are doing something that will be of potential value to the study of UFOs (or folklore, or psychology, or..) in the future. I believe ufologists in many countries should consider establishing similar local or regional UFO repositories. Preservation of the history and folklore of UFO studies and belief can never be a waste of time and will be an activity respected, even by academia. We would very much like to see our idea transform into a chain of regional archives and info centers. We hear of similar initiatives in France, in Italy, in Spain, in Norway, and in the US. Here are a few guide-lines which I feel may be important:
1. Establish a small group of dedicated people who share the same ideas and the responsibilities for the archive. You can't do it on your own! See to that the idea does not die when (if) your own interests change.
2. Establish the collection in a locality of it's own, in a major town, where several people pay for the costs and have mutual access with their own keys. Except maybe for the first years, don't house the collection in your own living room where no one else has access to it! Spare keys should be available for visiting researchers to borrow.
3. Establish the archive as a self-owning institution (foundation) free from too close ties with any other organization, but try to co-operate with as many people as possible.
4. Establish a sponsorship system where the success of the archive does not primarily rely on the usual membership-magazine circuit. If you want a well ordered collection you don't have the time to run a membership organization or edit a monthly (or even a quarterly) high quality magazine! You must specialize to achieve results.
5. Establish active contacts with well known archive and academic institutions. Strive to become a serious and recognized institution to which students and researchers at high schools and universities can turn for good source material as they write serious papers.
6. Important! Keep a relatively "low" profile, especially towards the local media. The advantage is that you will spill very few beans on people who are only "passing thru" our subject, people whose interest soon vane or pass into other areas. Focus on few, but serious, people.
7. A simple copier is a minimum requirement at any archive. With a copier much of your material never has to leave the house - and you minimize potential losses.
You can support AFU by becoming a sponsor, by sending a copy of your authored book, or by exchanging your magazine with our AFU Newsletter (three-four issue/year).