Libraries & Spaces
Flying Saucers Over DC!
The Jack Womack Flying Saucer Library at Georgetown University is an astounding collection of popular and fringe thought dedicated to the flying saucer phenomenon that gripped the United States during the second half of the 20th century. Assembled by Philip K. Dick Award-winning author Jack Womack, this collection is important not only in its scope, but in the curatorial expertise that hand-selected the most representative publications of the movement.
The onslaught of Flying Saucer sightings, beginning in the summer of 1947, is remarkable not only because sightings were reported so widely, but because so many people felt compelled to publish books explaining what these saucers might be. The more books that were published, the wilder grew the imaginings and the broader grew the conspiracy theories. This collection represents a moment in history in which the spiritual and the physical collided in the popular experience. The Womack collection contains books, typescripts, pamphlets, tracts and magazines published primarily from 1948 to 1980. It includes most of the major 1950s works on flying saucers, the works of all major contactees, bibliographies, compilations of so-called photographs, and a number of publications from the Saucerian Press.
This exhibition presents highlights from the collection, which was donated to the Booth Family Center for Special Collections of the Georgetown University Library in 2016.
A catalog of the collection, with an introduction by William Gibson, is available from Anthology Editions. As Gibson writes in his introduction:
You hold it now in your hand: the source-code, the veritable root of the enigma. Jack Womack has brought it to the surface for you, via a years-long ritual of great geographical complexity; has assembled, here, out of the world’s wrack of lost books, the necessary pentagram of the root-stuff of the saucers. The truth, all these years, hasn’t, as The X-Files had it, been out there, but rather was in here. Within these peculiar volumes, these testimonials to certain human needs.
The collection will be cataloged and then made available to researchers within a few months after this exhibition.
We are deeply grateful to Jack Womack for his remarkable farsightedness as a collector. Special thanks to Johan Kugelberg, whose Manhattan-based organization Boo-Hooray, dedicated to preserving documentation of 20th- and 21st-century cultural movements, has done so much to identify, gather, and place collections such as this one. Thanks also to Katie Murphy and the rest of the staff at Boo-Hooray for their assistance in reprising the exhibition at Georgetown.