Friday, June 12, 2020

When Santa Claus Came to AFU

December 13, 2010 began as a nice and leisurely winter day at AFU. We were celebrating our annual festivity on Saint Lucy´s Day, enjoying coffee, mulled wine and gingerbread. It was pretty cold outside and lots of snow so it was good to be in one of our varm and confortable archive premises. The festivity was suddenly interrupted by a phone call. A truckdriver from Schenker announced he had just arrived and wanted us to come out and unload eleven pallets. Not overly enthusiastic the AFU staff put on their winter clothes and walked up to the lorry and were met with a sight the like we have never encountered before. In the snow stood eleven pallets with 235 large and heavy boxes. The entire library from the Hilary and Mary Evans estate i London, donated to AFU.

Hilary Evans visiting AFU October 7, 1996

Luckily we were ten AFU people who helped carrying these boxes. But it was a tough job in the snow and icy stairs down to one of our basement premises. When all the boxes were safely stored we now had a double reason for keeping on celebrating. The 235 boxes contained the largest donation of material ever received in AFU history. More than 9.000 books and thousands of rare and unique magazines from all over the world. Many of the books and magazines in excellent mint condition, often clothbound. We were honoured och proud that AFU was chosen as the custodian of this immensely valuable collection covering subjects like UFO, forteana, folklore, parapsychology, paranormal phenomena, ancient mysteries, mysticism, esoterica and a host of other subjects. In AFU history December 13, 2010 will forever be remembered as the day we were visited by Santa Claus.

Part of the AFU gang celebrating Saint Lucy´s Day, October 13, 2010

The Hilary and Mary Evans donation has arrived

Håkan Landin with heavy boxes

Sven-Olov Svensson trying not to fall on the slippery floor

The AFU gang after one hour of heavy work

At AFU a decision was made to house this collection in a special facility, which we named The Evans Library, in honour of Hilary and Mary Evans. As librarian I still find it a feast both for the eyes and mind to peruse the shelves in the Evans library. Thousands of rare and unusual books I have never seen or even heard of before, many early tomes from the 18th and 19th century. A treasure trove for scholars of various disciplines and anyone researching the unsolved mysteries of our world. I notice for instance a complete set of Proceedings for the Society of Psychical Research from 1882 in clothbound volumes and the beautifully illustrated magazine The Medium 1872-1882.

SPR Proceedings in the Evans Library

Hilary Evans (1929-2011)  visited AFU in October 1996 and we discussed his research and theories. He didn´t want to be labelled ufologist as his foremost interest was paranormal phenomena. Hilary Evans was an advocate of the skeptical psycho-social theory regarding UFOs, but he represented skepticism at its best: erudite, open minded, humble. He was no debunker but stressed several times during our talk the importance of looking at new data and possibilities. When asked for an advice to Swedish ufologists and field investigators he said, never become a rigid dogmatist, be open minded - totally open minded. It was Hilary Evans that inspired the AFU board to change our acronym AFU from Archives for UFO Research to Archives for the Unexplained. A very suitable name as our collections had during many years come to include all types of borderland and paranormal phenomena, not only UFOs.

Part of the Evans Library

Since 2010 AFU has been visited by Santa Claus several times with donations like the archives from Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF), Flying Saucer Review and many many more. Study the impressive list of international donors who all have chosen AFU as the best repository for their archives and collections. AFU is a Cultural World Heritage, open to all types of serious researchers; ufologists, investigators of paranormal phenomena, academic scholars, journalists – skeptics as well as believers. We only wish you are endowed with that human quality -  a persistent and uncompromising search for Truth, whatever that might be, and wherever it may lead. The policy of AFU is world wide open access to as many documents in our collections as possible. Take a look at the thousands of old and hard to find UFO and Fortean magazines that can be read at our AFU website. We deplore when rare archives are destroyed or sold to private collectors at eBay and other sites and consequently lost to the international research community. We wish to share as much data freely as is legally possible.

Although many collections have been lost or destroyed there is a steady stream of donations coming in to AFU. Yesterday board members Clas Svahn and Carl-Anton Mattsson fetched the latest donation to AFU from the late Swedish psychiatrist and parapsychologist Dr. Nils-Olof Jacobson (1938-2017). Well known for his book Liv efter döden (1971), English edition Life Without Death, published in 1974.

Anders Liljegren at AFU with the new Nils-Olof Jacobson archive

Nils-Olof Jacobson

Jacobson was deeply fascinated by the UFO phenomenon and we corresponded on and off beginning in 1985. In an email November 17, 2010 he told of his meeting with Jacques Vallee and UFO sighting:

I have said it so many times before but I will repeat it once again: Without libraries and archives we have no history, only anecdotes, myths and hazy memories. Without archives and libraries serious and scientific research becomes very difficult and in some areas almost impossible. If we don´t learn from history we will continue making the same mistakes or once again trying to reinvent the wheel. AFU is our legacy to the future.