The Role of News Clippings in the History of Ufology

 

The pastime of researching UFOs dates back to the early years of the “flying saucer” phenomenon in the late-1940s. From the beginning, most ufologists had to conduct their research as a labor of love, curiosity, or both – in other words, their research efforts were unpaid. Widely shut out of formal academic and government investigative circles, even university-based enthusiasts had to conduct research, share ideas, write and distribute articles, and organize conferences on their own time and with little, if any, funding. This has remained the case up to this very day.

So, then, how did ufologists go about their research? The personal papers of ufologists reveal that many – perhaps even most – collected news clippings, for years and even decades. Throughout the world, ufologists such as Håkan Blomqvist, Murray Bott, Barry Greenwood, Kalevi Mikkonen, Patrick Murray, David Sankey, Luis Schönherr, Willy Wegner, and Kenny Young painstakingly tracked news of UFO sightings in newspapers, magazines, and UFO periodicals. Articles were clipped out and oftentimes placed in scrapbooks, which typically would be organized either chronologically or with reference to specific waves or flaps.

Ufologists were aided in their individual research by dedicated archivists like Roderick (Rod) Dyke. In 1969, at the age of 17, Dyke published the first issue of the UFO Newsclipping Service. Eschewing editorializations, Dyke and his associates Lou Farish, Chuck Flood, and Dave Marler, provided subscribers with news not only involving unidentified flying objects, but also regarding cryptozoology and general Fortean events. The last issue was published in August 2011, by which time, the service had passed on over 30,000 news clippings.

The news clipping collections of ufologists, thus, provide evidence of two important aspects of the history of the UFO phenomenon. First, it shows how inventive and ambitious ufologists historically have been in both finding and cataloguing evidence they deemed relevant to the study of unidentified flying objects. Second, the collections testify to the important role played by print media in helping to disseminate information and stories about UFOs.

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