Sunday, August 23, 2020

Swedish Women Ufologists

Perusing the biographies in any UFO encyclopedia it becomes evident that ufology has to a large extent been the occupation of men. I did a fast check in Ronald Story´s classic The Encyclopedia of UFOs (1980) and found 98 biographical entries on male ufologists and 5 (five!) entries on female ufologists. I have no good answer for the cause of this difference, but the situation is somewhat similar in Sweden. In this blog article I would like to present and honor some prominent Swedish women ufologists.

Edith Nicolaisen
Although not a ufologist in the ordinary sense I would not hesitate to designate Miss Edith Nicolaisen (1911-1986) the Mother of the Swedish UFO movement. Her pioneering work inspired thousands of people. Together with three ladies from the Theosophical Society (Adyar) Edith Nicolaisen founded the publishing house Parthenon in 1957 and moved from Copenhagen to Hälsingborg, Sweden. In spite of a severe car accident, periods of illness and many other obstacles Ediths succeeded in publishing many of the early classics in UFO contactee literature.

Several years later she described the heureka moment in her life when she decided on her life´s mission: "The first book I read was that of Leslie-Adamski´s Flying Saucers Have Landed and something in me recognized the truth, however fantastic it all sounded to my intellect and narrow-minded teaching, we all have received. I am a Danish citizen, who in 1954 was faced with the difficult choice either to accept the doors suddenly flung open for an additional three years college-training in USA for a future career under WHO Geneve... or, to volunteer for the SAUCER-cause here in Sweden, which meant to chose the "thorny and stony" road of the lonesome pioneer. After a fierce fight between intellect and heart, the latter gained supremacy."
(Letter from Edith Nicolaisen to Basil van den Berg, September 1, 1963).

Edith Nicolaisen 1962

Edith Nicolaisen succeeded in founding Sällskapet för interplanetariska studier (The Society for Interplanetary Studies) at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg on March 19, 1958. This group of UFO-interested technology students soon disbanded but it was the first attempt to found a UFO society in Sweden. She also inspired the founding of Malmö Interplanetariska Sällskap (MIS), a UFO society still active today.

Edith Nicolaisen corresponded with hundreds of ufologists, contactees, esotericists and new-age activists from around the world between 1950-1986. The Parthenon archive was donated to UFO-Sweden and AFU and is a treasure trove of valuable data for research on the early UFO and contactee movement.

Kerstin Bäfverstedt
Kerstin Bäfverstedt (1909-2000) became fascinated by Theosophy, reading Helena P. Blavatsky in her early teens. This initiated a lifelong spiritual quest involving Spiritualism, esotericism, paranormal phenomena, alternative healing practices, UFOs a.o. Kerstin was married to Bo Bäfverstedt in 1936, MD, later Attending Physician and Professor at Södersjukhuset 1946-1979 (Stockholm South General Hospital).

In March 1958 the society Måndagsgruppen (The Monday Society) faced the predicament of having no lecturer for the coming week. A suggestion was then made to invite Mrs Kerstin Bäfverstedt for a lecture on flying saucers. The lecture was a huge success and was held once again a week later, when enrollment lists were circulated for those who wanted to participate in the formation of a UFO society in Sweden. On March 23, 1958 Ifologiska Sällskapet (The Ifological Society) was formally founded and announced in the press. This society folded in 1969.

Kerstin Bäfverstedt

During her many travels around the world Kerstin visited researchers and leaders of various societies involved in UFO and paranormal investigation. In the United States she became a good friend with several members of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF): Riley Crabb, Trevor James Constable and Dr. Ruth Drown. She was for many years Regional Director of BSRF and her letters and comments were sometimes published in RoundRobin. The Journal of Borderland Research. During the 14-15 October 1961 Kerstin participated in The Giant Rock Space Craft Convention, organized by George Van Tassel.

In 2013 the archive of Kerstin Bäfverstedt was generously donated to AFU by her daughter Eva Sundler Malmnäs. From a historical viewpoint it is interesting to notice that the ideas of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation, because of Kerstin Bäfverstedt, influenced the Swedish UFO movement.

Barbro Magnusson
One of UFO-Sweden´s best field investigators was Barbro Magnusson (1944-2008). For many years chairman of the the local group UFO-Nyköping and board member of UFO-Sweden 1987-2007. She was an enthusiastic and meticulous researcher and one of the first ufologists to establish contacts with Swedish Military Intelligence. During 1983-1987 Barbro was very active in the Hessdalen Project in Norway and visited the area on twelve  occasions for interviews and field investigation.

Barbro Magnusson, March 25, 1996

Birgitta Andersson
For many years active in the local group Enköpings UFO-förening, Birgitta Andersson was in 1979 elected chairman of UFO-Sweden. She was succeeded in 1980 by Christer Nordin. Birgitta is the only woman to have been chairman of UFO-Sweden.

Birgitta Andersson, April 7, 1979

Gudrun Andersson
In 1975 the local UFO-Sweden group Bärke UFO-förening was founded by five women, with Gudrun Andersson as chairman. In 1976 this group merged with Ludvika UFO-förening and adopted the new name Västerbergslagens UFO-förening. Gudrun was the leader of this group for many years and it was one of the most active UFO groups in Sweden, with some 150 members. Between 1977 and 2012 they published 147 issues of the magazine UFO-Nytt.  Gudrun Andersson was board member of UFO-Sweden 1986-1988, 1997-2013 and also very much involved in field investigation and the Hessdalen Project.

Gudrun Andersson, August 29, 2009

Irre Bredin (Grytdal)
In 1978 Irre Bredin (today Grytdal) observed a triangular object passing overhead. This was the beginning of her intense UFO interest and in 1978 she founded the local group Vetlanda UFO-förening together with Stig Olsson. This group arranged the annual UFO-Sweden meeting in 1983. Irre was a hard-working enthusiast in UFO-Sweden until she moved to Norway in 2012. For many years a board member she has been resposible for several projects and activities, including the Hessdalen and Martebo field investigations. Chairman of UFO-Köping 1995-1999. 

Irre Bredin (Grytdal) with a drawing of the UFO she observed in 1978

Berit Bergqvist
In 1991 Berit Bergqvist, together with Kurt Persson founded the UFO-Sweden magazine Rapport-Nytt and they also headed the reporting centre for the national organization 1991-1993. Berit was UFO-Sweden board member 1990-1994 and participated in many activities and projects.

Berit Bergqvist and Kurt Persson visiting AFU September 21, 1991

Inga-Lill Wallin
In 2000 the book Marteboljuset – myt och verklighet (The Martebo Light – Myth and Reality) was published. Written by Inga-Lill Wallin it was a thorough documentation of the the mysterious lights observed for many years at Martebo, Gotland. Inga-Lill was for many years chairman of Stockholms UFO-förening and an active field investigator. Member of the UFO-Sweden board 1991-1992, 2001-2006.

Inga-Lill Wallin at Martebo, Gotland 2002

Eva-Maria Malmqvist
A very active UFO-Sweden group was UFO-Z, based in Östersund in the north of Sweden. Between 1978-1998 this group was engaged in many research projects, field investigations and local exhibitions. For many years chairman and the driving force was Eva-Maria Malmqvist. She was often interviewed in local media and worked hard to inspire the founding of local UFO-Sweden groups.

Eva-Maria Malmqvist at Expo-Norr, Östersund, Summer 1991

Eva-Maria Malmqvist interviewed in Östersunds-Posten, Nov. 13, 1991

Jennie Backman
One of the new and active women ufologists in UFO-Sweden. Board member since 2014. Proficient in social media work, Jennie is responsible for UFO-Sweden´s FaceBook site.

Jennie Backman at AFU, November 15, 2014

There are of course many more Swedish women ufologists that should have been included in this list. But with these examples it is evident that the Swedish UFO movement has in many ways been founded, inspired by and progressed because of the active women ufologists.

Notice to readers

I have been writing this blog since 2009. From the beginning in Swedish and since April 2013 written in English. In recent years I have tried to produce three articles every month but from now on will reduce it to one or possibly two articles every month. The reason is to have more time for AFU archival work. Perusing the shelves in our 14 premises at AFU I am constantly reminded of the existential problem – so much work, so little time.