Recently, two of our daily KnowItAALL emails alerted me to the fact we are currently living in the golden age of UFO research, and the world now has online access to previously classified/unavailable/pain-in-the-neck to obtain FBI and CIA documents about our possible alien visitors.
FBI’S The Vault Database
The Vault is the FBI’s most recent FOIA database effort and contains 6700 documents that have been scanned over the years in response to FOIA requests. Out of the many categories of documents available on the site, my attention was immediately drawn to UFOS. According to the website, beginning in 1947, there were a rash of UFO sightings in America. The UFO portion of The Vault contains documents about the FBI’s role in helping the Air Force investigate these sightings between 1947 and 1954.
The Vault is not a terribly elaborate database effort on the part of the FBI. Basically, it is just a searchable set of often blurry PDF documents, with a basic search feature and a rather vague index. The UFO part of it contains just 17 PDF documents.
My Alien Hunting Grandfather?
Whenever I am alerted to the existence of a new (or at least new to me) database, I search the database for my last name (Gotschall) and my mother’s maiden name (Hibbs) to see if any of my relatives were involved in…well, whatever is in the database. As one might guess, this usually produces no results. However, this time, my hopes were high because my grandfather was actually in the FBI in the 1940s and 50s. I struck gold and found that in Part 7 of the 17 PDF documents, Mr. Gotschall was included on a list of people (old timey cc’ing!) who received a collection of letters about UFO sightings!
Sadly, there is nothing further in the database about his alien hunting activities and I don’t remember him mentioning UFOs at all when he was alive.
The Black Vault
Soon after learning about the FBI database with UFO info, another KnowItAll email alerted me to the existence of The Black Vault, a privately run site which contains thousands of CIA documents about UFOs which they obtained through FOIA requests over the years. The site provides a link to a 342 MB zip file which contains hundreds of searchable PDF documents. I downloaded the file and used Abobe Acrobat DC to combine the individual PDFs and search the resulting file (combining the files took over an hour me so I am attaching a link to my file from my Google Drive). There is a lot of interesting stuff in there, though sadly for me none of the documents mention my grandfather.
What Else is Available for UFO Research?
Not to be outdone, the NSA has a UFO Documents Index website with links to their FOIA records they have supplied to the public over the years. To avoid future duplicative requests, they have provided the inquisitive public with a very long list of Commonly Requested UFO Terms for which No Records Have Been Found. (Author’s note: People, unless you want to disappear in mysterious circumstances, stop asking about ALF, alien autopsies, animal mutilations, etc.)
And, of course, if there are 7 or 8 people in the world interested in a topic, there is a research guide about it somewhere on the Internet. A quick Google search reveals the existence of the Unidentified Flying Objects Research Guide on the Naval History and Heritage Command website to assist the UFO researching crowd.
What is the future of UFO databases? Will the FBI release more documents about my grandfather’s alien search? Will the CIA cough up some more documents, or maybe a previously unknown secret UFO government agency will come to light? I will keep my eye on my KnowItAALL emails for further developments.