The Sign Historical Group (SHG)

The Sign Historical Group
UFO History Workshop Proceedings

Excerpt from the Workshop Abstract:

Some preliminary thoughts from Michael Swords on defining the field:

At the outset, there is the potential for a serious divide among any group espousing interest in "UFO history." The majorities of people interested in UFOs are mainly interested in the perceptible objects or the reports themselves, and not generally in the ways in which humans have responded to, studied and manipulated information about the phenomenon.

On the one hand, one view might, understandably, interpret UFO history as the history of UFO appearances themselves, focusing on the phenomena rather than the effect within the human community and its subsets. This approach is, more or less, a "natural history," cataloguing real or alleged observations, rather than history in our current view of the discipline.

On the other hand, a more traditional view of history will want to emphasize the roles of persons and organizations that have dealt with the phenomenon, rather than the phenomena itself. The real nature of any aspect of the phenomenon may be of interest, but very possibly of small relevance to the particular historical task to which the scholarship is addressed.

In other words, UFOs constitute an ongoing unsolved mystery.

The meeting in Chicago, which precipitated these Proceedings, was initiated to bring together individuals actively involved in historical research in an attempt to determine the current state of affairs of UFO history. In this regard, the Proceedings is not simply a compilation of presented papers, but rather, represents primarily three areas of interest that were discussed during the Workshop.

  • Contributed Papers: The need for a scholarly journal in which peer-reviewed articles can be published and discussed.

  • Archival Resources: A historical research manual, or "cookbook" which would provide specific information relevant to the field.

  • Collections: The need for a registry of primary materials collections, which would eventually evolve into a "union list."

UFO history and the experiential aspects of the phenomenon exist whether or not UFOs, in fact, exist. Though mainstream scholars generally disregard the phenomenon, the history is robust and has had dramatic effects on our culture for the past fifty years. The Sign Historical Group, which formed as a result of the Workshop, and the publication of these Proceedings, is simply an attempt to bring a more traditional approach to this fascinating aspect of our cultural history. It is hoped that this publication will raise the level of interest and encourage others to contribute to the sometimes sketchy, often misinterpreted and always incomplete history of UFOs in modern times.

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