Thehas been one of the most thoroughly researched and debated mysteries in the history of the UFO phenomenon and among the most enduring.
This month, Roswell will mark the 75th anniversary of the alleged 1947 UFO crash with the debate over what occurred far from settled.
That hasn't been for a lack of digging. For decades now, journalists, authors, documentary film crews and others fascinated by the incident have unearthed and publicized countless bits of information and artifacts of that time.
Along the way, they've brought attention to many pieces of Roswell history, such as the July 1947 front pages of the Roswell Daily Record that recorded initial reports of the incident along with a follow-up version of events presented by the military that some now view as one of history's greatest cover-ups.
The intensity of focus placed on the Roswell incident for three-quarters of a century has led some to posit that most contemporaneous records have already been scrutinized. But one piece of local history recently uncovered provides an interesting companion to those iconic 1947 headlines the public has become familiar with - while adding yet more pages to a still-growing historical record.
The Roswell Morning Dispatch, a long-defunct sister newspaper of the Roswell Daily Record, was published in the mornings from 1928-1950. The Dispatch covered the news of the day, and as such, it carried accounts in July 1947 of the unfolding events related to the alleged recovery of a crashed "Flying Disk" outside Roswell, along with the military's explanations for what had occurred.
Its historical headlines were discovered among archived editions of the newspaper, the Daily Record reported.
Of interest to UFO research enthusiasts: The July 9, 1947 headline in the Morning Dispatch read, "Army Debunks Roswell Flying Disk As World Simmers With Excitement," followed by a sub-head bearing a familiar assertion that would help fuel future accusations of a cover-up: "Officers Say Disk Is A Weather Balloon." A sidebar describes then-sheriff George Wilcox fielding calls from media around the world as journalists sought information on what would come to be known as the Roswell incident.
Nick Pope, who investigated UFOs for the UK Ministry of Defense, said discovery of the old headlines holds significance for researchers and others interested in the phenomenon.
"It's a fascinating piece of history that time had forgotten," Pope said. "It just shows that 75 years after the Roswell incident, there are still discoveries to be made in the archives."
He added, "Any historian will tell you that going back to the original sources is priceless when it comes to getting an insight into what happened and how those people involved were reacting and perceiving things, and what the feeling was in the local community.
"This is just an amazing glimpse into Roswell in 1947 - which was ground zero for this mystery that still endures to this day."
Barbara Beck, publisher of the Roswell Daily Record, said that bringing a new resource to light for researchers is something the paper's staff is excited about. "It has taken over 70 years for the Roswell Morning Dispatch with its unique articles and headlines to be discovered while looking through our newspaper's archives," she said. "The Dispatch was originally owned by my family and it's very exciting that we now have a new primary resource to further understand the history of New Mexico and its undiscovered stories."
The Roswell Daily Record headlines related to the 1947 UFO incident have, for some time, been federally trademarked. Beck added that the Roswell Morning Dispatch accounts have also now been trademarked, meaning they can't be reproduced without permission.
There's much to be discovered in the archives. A look at the Dispatch records provide a reminder, for instance, of the degree to which a public fascination with UFOs had taken hold here and across the country at that time. The Roswell incident is one of four UFO-related accounts that appear just on the front page of the July 9, 1947 Morning Dispatch. The other items: "Carrizozo Man Sees Flying Disk," "Joe Massey Spots Disk Over Roswell," and an image of an unknown object in the sky over Seattle, Washington, with a caption that asks the question, "Is this a flying disc?"
Further research into the archives has uncovered many more mentions of sightings.
Readers might also notice that the Dispatch front page contains instances of language that reflect the less culturally sensitive times during which the paper was being published. Daily Record management thought it was important to present the archival front page, a piece of local history, to the public unedited and unaltered.
Pope, who will travel to Roswell in July to participate in the Daily Record's Roswell Incident event, part of the city's UFO Festival, said he hopes discovery of the old Dispatch headlines reminds people that historical records could still be out there, waiting to be discovered. Such a discovery could, as the much anticipated 75th anniversary of the incident nears, help shed new light on what happened in 1947.
"The fact that Roswell will be the focus of world attention again, is almost like ... a sort of final chance to maybe solve the mystery, one way or the other, for good," he said.
The anniversary of the Roswell incident comes a month afterthat it is establishing an independent group of investigators to study unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), formerly known as UFOs, in the latest government effort to investigate the mysterious objects reported by hundreds of pilots.
In a release, the space agency said the researchers will be tasked with "identifying available data, how best to collect future data, and how NASA can use that data to move the scientific understanding of UAPs forward." The study will begin in the fall and take about nine months to complete, with researchers planning to issue their findings in a public report. The release noted that "[t]here is no evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin."
The effort is separate from the work of a Defense Department group that has been investigating the incidents reported by aviators for several years, but NASA noted that the agency has "coordinated widely across the government regarding how to apply the tools of science to shed light on the nature and origin of unidentified aerial phenomena."
The number of reported encounters with UAPs has exploded in recent years as the military has encouraged pilots to document their experiences, citing possible national security threats. The incidents acknowledged publicly typically involve strange objects zooming at high speeds across vast distances, with no apparent propulsion system.
Aby the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Pentagon's UAP Task Force issued last year found no evidence to suggest the objects originated from a foreign adversary or were extraterrestrial in nature, but investigators also could not explain most of the incidents.
In May, Pentagon officials working to identify the origins of UAPsbefore a House subcommittee in the first public hearing on the matter in more than 50 years. They told lawmakers the number of reported encounters had grown to about 400 over nearly 20 years, with 11 "near-misses" between the objects and military jets.
Stefan Becket contributed to this report.
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