University of Manitoba’s paranormal archives just got a little more extraordinary

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A donation of 30,000 UFO-related materials makes the university the premier location for paranormal research in Canada.

The University of Manitoba’s Paranormal Collection has just been released a little further out of this world. In October, the university’s Archives and Special Collections unit received a private donation from Canadian ufologist Chris Rutkowski of some 30,000 UFO-related documents. All of this is in addition to the university’s already impressive collections of psychic research and spiritualism, making it a hub for paranormal archival research in Canada.

According to Shelley Sweeney, the recently retired U of M Archives and Special Collections Officer, the artifacts donated by Mr. Rutkowski detail various UFO sightings. “People from across Canada would put the observations together, then give them to him, and he would create an annual report,” she says.


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The donation includes 20,000 UFO reports filed since 1989, 10,000 Canadian government UFO documents and artefacts from Stefan Michalak’s 1967 encounter with a UFO in Falcon Lake, Manitoba, including the burnt clothing he he was wearing that night. There are also over 2,000 books on UFOs and research on 10 books by Mr. Rutkowski (who is also a science writer and media relations specialist at the U of M).

A group of items from the Falcon Lake fonds, including artifacts such as a burnt shirt, burnt hat, Mayo Clinic registration card, RCMP tags, etc. All photos courtesy of Chris Rutkowski.

“This is more material than we normally get, that’s for sure. It’s an extraordinary archive, ”says Dr Sweeney. It is also the first UFO-related material that was added to the university’s psychic research and spiritualism collections. “It tells people that this is a place where we welcome collections that look at life in a different way, that we are open at least to consider that there could be another reality alternative to the one we live in.” , Dr Sweeney said.

The collection of spiritualism began with a collection of photos of sessions of the family of paranormal researchers TG and Lillian Hamilton which date from 1918 to 1945. Since then, it has more than 50 holdings and collections, attracting researchers from various fields who study paranormal events or what paranormal beliefs can tell us about the human condition. It is this aspect of the collection that, according to Dr. Sweeney, most often attracts researchers.

Jennifer Douglas is one of these researchers. An assistant professor in the School of Library, Archives and Information at the University of British Columbia, she stumbled upon the Hamilton session photos almost by accident while researching grief in online communities.

Stefan Michalak’s burnt shirt.

“I read in TG Hamilton’s biography that he and his wife Lillian turned to psychic experiences after the death of their son, and I thought it relates really very well to the work I do. because… it’s the same kind of instinct I used to see parents in online communities, ”says Dr. Douglas.

Dr Douglas says that while someone’s first instinct may be to laugh at spiritualism (in fact, a lot of people do when showing photos of the shoot in presentations), it can teach us about trauma. and human grief.

“If you think about it from a grieving and connecting point of view, and this deep desire to be able to maintain a connection with a deceased person … then it starts to be less funny, doesn’t it?” And it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not real.

It is this aspect of the collection that, according to Dr. Sweeney, most often attracts researchers.

“People are welcome to be skeptical,” says Dr. Sweeney. “Believe it, don’t believe it; it really doesn’t matter. It is documenting a social phenomenon.


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