Deep in the belly of the New Brunswick Provincial Archives, several archivists sit in the sorting room on a Friday afternoon, sifting through accountings of abductions, studies on flying saucers and illustrations of extraterrestrials.
They dedicate every Friday afternoon to the sorting of thousands upon thousands of papers, books and other objects donated to the archive by Stanton T. Friedman, Fredericton’s resident UFOlogist.
Originally from New Jersey, Friedman moved to Fredericton, New Brunswick in 1980 for his wife Marilyn, a Fredericton native. This made the small city home to one of the most world-renowned experts on UFOs until his retirement nearly 40 years later.
The New Brunswick Provincial Archives requested Friedman’s records and work following his retirement in 2018, memorializing his contribution to the legacy of New Brunswick. It was also important to Friedman to have his research available to the public.
“He wanted all of the information to be available without restriction,” said Joanna Aiton Kerr, a manager at the Archives.
In January 2019, the Archives began the move of Friedman’s collection from his house to the provincial archives on UNB campus. It took five cargo vans to transport it all.
“It’s enormous,” she said. “I’ve never dealt with anything like this.”
A year later, the archives are still working on their first sorting through the material. His work existed as piles and piles of papers, letters, documents, books and other objects filling three entire rooms of his house.
There have been grocery lists, memos, business cards of random places—and in one case, a list of his favourite cheeses—found amongst the correspondence with ufologists and reports on flying ships. Friedman also had large collections of newsletters and pulp sci-fi from the 1950s unrivaled by any other.
“He was really unique in how broad his scope of collection was,” Joanna said. “Stanton collected everything.”
Friedman was one of the most well-known UFOlogists in the world, with a career spanning 52 years. He gave over 600 lectures across the world and published more than 90 papers, as well as several books. Friedman traveled to 20 different countries for his work and spoke at United Nations assemblies twice.
He received a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Masters of Science in Physics from the University of Chicago in the 1950s before going on to work as a nuclear physicist for 14 years.
Friedman credits The Report On UFOs by U.S. air force captain Edward J. Ruppelt as his inspiration in pursuing aliens and UFOs. Reading the report in 1958 was his first experience with serious material on UFOs and it is when he began his interest in an extensive career of research into extraterrestrial life, UFO incidents, and government cover-ups.
Members of the extraterrestrial study community were drawn to Friedman, because of his willingness to entertain all potential evidence and investigate further than others in his field.
“He was one of the first to do this in the way he did it,” described Aiton Kerr.
As a result, he quickly garnered a massive fan-base and widespread media attention, frequently appearing on shows such as CNN, CBC, and Larry King Live, including one appearance with Bill Nye. He received fan mail from across the world, telling stories of abductions, drawings of creatures seen in the sky and samples of dirt and wood collected at landing sites.
Although he debunked many of these accountings, Fieldman was committed in his pursuit of life beyond Earth.
“He was out to prove that UFOs were real,” said Aiton Kerr.
The original civilian investigator of the Roswell Incident, Friedman remained convinced throughout his life of the existence of aliens and that they had visited Earth, claiming that he had “ample evidence.”
"He doubted everything until he had the evidence. He was skeptical himself,” Kaltheen Marden, a frequent colleague of Friedman’s told CBC.
Friedman also felt that belief in the existence of aliens was more widespread than one might believe, and that most believed or could be easily convinced.
“No, I don't get taken to be a nut. Most people agree with me once they hear the evidence,” he said in an interview with CBC in 2011.
Friedman died in May of 2019 at the age of 84, in an airport on his way back from a speaking engagement. His work is recognized and memorialized around the world, and the City of Fredericton marked August 27 Stanton Friedman Day in 2007.
“It is time for a wake-up call. We are not alone.”
Emma Warwick contributed reporting and writing.