Thursday, August 18, 2016

The BSRF archive

For several years I have been deeply concerned regarding the future fate of the archive of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF). On the internet I watched a video sequence showing the archive in a terrible mess, housed in a garage in Eureka, California. Meade Layne, together with Max Freedom Long, founded Borderland Sciences Research Associates (BSRA) already in 1945 and many of the early Forteans and ufologists were involved with this group. From a historical and research viewpoint the BSRF archive is of paramount importance.

Meade Layne 1930

James Borges with the BSRF archive at Eureka

Custodian of the BSRF archive in Eureka was James Borges, but he had no time or possibility to arrange or scan the collection. Clas Svahn, UFO-Sweden has for many years made regular visits to the UK and other countries in order to resque UFO and Fortean archives for preservation at AFU. Because of Clas and collegues tenacious efforts to retrieve archives from all over the world Bob Rickard has named them The Viking Raiders. And Clas also succeeded this time, convincing James Borges that the best option for preserving the BSRF archive was at AFU in Sweden. During a trip to the U.S. in June this year Clas and his sons Niklas and Markus met James in Eureka and together packed 72 boxes of material, among dust and spiders. On July 29 the archive finally arrived at AFU.

Part of the BSRF archive unpacked at AFU

Recently I spent two days for a first inventory and perusal of this invaluable collection. What a treasure trove of unique documents, especially from the 1940s 50s and 60s: rare publications, magazines, correspondence, photos etc. And of course all the magazines and publications published by BRSF, including Riley Crabb´s 1950s newsletter from his Akualele Research Group in Hawaii. I had also hoped to find correspondence from Millen Cooke and Paul M. Vest but so far no luck. But I did find some of the correspondence between Desmond Leslie and Meade Layne from 1952-1955, discussing George Adamski and the publication of Flying Saucers Have Landed. Rare and unique documents indeed. In his letters Desmond Leslie proves to be a very erudite esotericist, also mentioning that he has been "helped to write by certain entities in the other world who have told they are doing the best to guide my pen." (Letter November 13, 1952). We all know the result -  "the book that was dynamite" - quoting Flying Saucer Review editor Charles Bowen. Leslie first suggested the title Saucers and Sorcery for his book. But with the George Adamski contact of 1952 included he changed the title to the definitely more inspiring Flying Saucers Have Landed.

Special BSRA issue of Ouranos, April 1953

Part of letter from Desmond Leslie to Meade Layne

Meade Layne became acquainted with the unique and fascinating deep-trance medium Mark Probert. The information channeled by mediums is generally a bore to read, platitudes coupled with naive love-and-light mysticism, But the Mark Probert communications are different, of a definitely higher intellectual and cultural quality, with intersting discussions of science, philosophy and esotericism. Meade Layne and his associates worked for many years with Mark Probert and the results were published in Seance Memoranda. Esotericist Riley Crabb, who directed BSRF between 1959-1985, referred to the sixteen men and women speaking through Probert as the "Inner Circle", the invisible powerhouse behind BSRF.

Mark Probert

The Inner Circle present themselves with names such as Ramon Natalli, Dr. Charles Lingford, Yada Di Shi´ite, Lo Sun Yat etc. Could these names be personas, fictional characters used by members of some of the secret lodges on earth? If this theory proves correct my guess would be the Yucatan Brotherhood mentioned by Charles Leadbeater, Annie Besant, Alice Bailey and Henry T. Laurency. This secret lodge created the first physical materialization phenomena that inspired the formation of the Spiritualist movement in the 19th century. Academic scholar Dr. Joscelyn Godwin has written several interesting articles seriously discussing this "The Hidden Hand Theory". With the donation of the BSRF archive most of the Seance Memoranda are now part of AFU and catalogued by Anders Liljegren.

Anders Liljegren cataloguing Seance Memoranda at AFU

I corresponded with Riley Crabb 1979-1985 and was really glad to find many articles, photos and correspondence in the BSRF archive, going back to his years on Hawaii. For three years Crabb was president of the Honolulu Lodge of the Theosophical Society and also a well-known lecturer on UFOs. In 1957 he, together with his wife Judy, moved to the U.S. and in 1959 he entered the directorship of BSRF as Mead Layne retired.

Riley Crabb with friends in Honolulu April 1949

Riley Crabb was very much concerned with the problem of relating UFO data to the Esoteric Tradition. Somewhat surprisingly this interest was not always met with enthusiasm by active Theosophists and other esotericists. In a revealing letter to Gordon Creighton August 5, 1990, Riley laments the conservatism and lack of UFO interest among these groups: "It is now obvious to me that one of my major reasons for being here in NZ is to try to awaken the leaders of the Theosophical Lodges to the realities of other inhabited planets and of advanced beings from them, quoting their own earliest literature... Phyllis is an AMORC Rosicrucian but got snubbed when she tried to open the San Jose, California leaders to the reality of UFOs materializing from the Forth Dimension; and when I quoted the early literature on space travel to Joy Mills, one of the leading American Theosophists at Krotona, Ojai, California, she replied that the references were "allegorical", hah! She also quoted Jung on UFOs in his book, that the space craft were images in the race mind."

The larger part of the BSRF archive consists of folders, alphabetically arranged according to subject or persons. In each folder can be found clippings, photos, correspondence or booklets. But there are also large piles of unsorted papers which will take months to assort. There are probably many gems hidden in these piles. The archive we have received at AFU is not complete. Part of the collections have probably been retrieved by former leaders or active members? But we are very glad that this unique archive has been preserved and is now in the custody of AFU, open to all serious investigators worldwide.