PETER ROGERSON



These are links to all the articles that Peter has written for MUFOB and Magonia that are on-line, and to the INTCAT catalogue he compiled. INTCAT is still being revised and updated from Peter's files.





PETER ROGERSON 1951-2016

In 1961 a ten-year-old Peter Rogerson was having his hair cut at the local barber's in Urmston, his home town just outside Manchester. In the corner of the shop there was one of those old-style wire paperback spinners. One book in particular caught his eye. It was Aime Michel's The Truth About Flying Saucers. The words 'FLYING SAUCERS' stood out in big, bold capital letters.

After his haircut he rushed home, got a half-crown (12½ p.) and hurried back to the shop to buy what he described as “… not just my actual first UFO book, but my actual first real grown-up book.” He added: “If any book set my life on its course, this is it."

Caught up in the excitement of the UFO flaps in the 1960s he devoured everything that he could on the topic, joining the Manchester-based UFO group DIGAP. Listening to some of the naive views expounded by members of this group, and through his deeper reading around the subject, he began to realise that the so-called 'extraterrestrial hypothesis' (ETH) was incapable of answering the ever more complex questions that the topic raised.

It was becoming clear to him that the UFO experience was intimately linked to a whole range of other anomalous experiences, and the insistence of believing in a 'nuts and bolts' explanation for the phenomenon simply blocked any attempt to gain a broader understanding. At this time writers such as John Keel and Jacques Vallee were also starting to think in this direction.

In the late 1960s my colleague John Harney and I were publishing the Merseyside UFO Bulletin, a typical 'zine of the time, turned out on a hand-cranked stencil duplicator. We had become rather unpopular with some of the old-school ufologists because of our critical attitudes, but when Peter found a copy of the Bulletin in a box of magazines at a DIGAP meeting it chimed with the ideas he was developing himself. He wrote a 'Letter to the Editor' which exploded with ideas, placing UFOs firmly into the Fortean field, and signalling the start of what became known as the 'New Ufology'. From then on he was a regular contributor to the Bulletin and its successor incarnations through more than four decades, providing a series of thoughtful and thought-provoking articles and incisive book reviews, as well as compiling the massive INTCAT listing of entity reports.

Peter spent his working life as a librarian, with a special interest in local history. He was the local history librarian for Warrington libraries until his retirement, and this contact with the past enabled him to see that the events described by UFO experiencers were paralleled by the stories told for centuries about contacts with unknown and other-worldly entities. This extended to ghosts and hauntings; he commented once that in his work at the library a large proportion of people who enquired about the history of their houses were in fact searching to see who had died in the house and was subsequently haunting it!

Along with his Magonia colleagues, particularly Roger Sandell (FT XX:XX), and through correspondence with French ufologists like Michel Monnerie and Thierry Pinvidic, he was instrumental in developing the idea of 'psychosocial ufology'. The Psychosocial Hypothesis (PSH) secularised some of the occult-influenced ideas that had begun to circulate amongst ufologists unsatisfied with the ETH. It suggested that known psychological processes such as hypnopompic and hypnogogic imagery, distortions of perception and the unreliability of memory in many circumstances, could be influenced by factors such as popular culture, mass-media, social conditioning, folklore, historical precedents, myth and legend, to explain many of the stranger aspects of the UFO mystery, without recourse to occult or psychic phenomenon.

Besides his work in helping transform British ufology, his other interests included the study of folklore, particularly Lancashire tales and legends; working-class and radical history and politics, and electoral systems around the world.

As the chief book reviewer for Magonia he built up a massive collection of books on ufology, psychic research, paranormal phenomena and other Fortean topics. Perhaps, after Hilary Evans's, the largest such collection in the UK. On top of this were his collections of political and historical titles. His home in Urmston, where he lived his entire life, resembled the classical Fortean image of a book-filled house with barely room between the stacks to move about!

Fortunately Peter had made preparations for the distribution of this unique collection, and a great deal of it has already been transferred under the supervision of Clas Svahn to the Archive for the Unexplained (AFU) in Norrk√∂ping, Sweden, so it will always be available for scholars and students. It is a shame that no suitable resting-place could be found in Britain. His main legacy however will be his writings; erudite, scholarly, often controversial, sometimes even angry, but always leading to a deeper and broader understanding of the topics he studied. 



Peter Rogerson. Librarian, archivist, ufologist, book collector. Born Urmston, Lancashire, 1 July 1951; died Manchester, 6 March 2018, aged 67.


This originally appeared in Fortean Times 366, May 2018.




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