The Editor's Choice


Aliens, Conspiracy and Abduction: UFO tales from the 1950’s Underground Press

After a BBC story about a UFO today, it got me thinking about how the UFO phenomenon was handled in the 1950’s and onwards.

In 1953, a U.S Air Force regulation report officially validated the term ‘Unidentified Flying Objects’ and recommended any UFO sightings to be investigated as a threat to national security. 

Image © Bowling Green State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission

This however does not paint the full picture of UFO conspiracies in the public mind of fifties and sixties America. Underground press titles from our Popular Culture in Britain and America resource show a different side to this phenomenon; a distrust and fear, claims of Government cover ups, collusion and even an abduction ‘shopping list’ for Alien invaders.

Underground press titles such as The Wild Places actively claimed that “joint alien US government facilit[ies]” were active in the desert and that the government were providing “the aliens’ ‘shopping’ list of who is to be abducted next”.

Image © Bowling Green State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission

However, it wasn’t just one leftfield small press title sounding off these conspiracy theories. Multiple press titles were citing similar stories, not just coincidence in the mind of some. The Saucerian magazine in the resource relays a reader’s contact story of when she met the aliens called “Velas from the planet Mars” and “Elan from Venus”, both of whom wore “gray business suits”. This was eleven years before IT runs an editorial, in a 1970 issue, on “the men in black UFO conspiracy”, citing “visitors [who] pose as FBI or CIA agents”. There are examples of conspiracy strands that were repeated in various places and for some, validated their fears as truth.

Image © Felix Dennis Archive. Further reproduction prohibited without permission

These magazines don’t, however, portray a mainstream press attitude of the time. What they do show is a heightened distrust of authorities’ handling the UFO phenomenon. A paranoia that their own Government was hiding aliens, to be used against them. Maybe there is an element of fear that these conspiracy claims had some grounding? Perhaps part of this underground press paranoia was a fear they were next!

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