On the evening of April 20, 1959, an astronomer committed suicide in Dade County Park, Florida.
Inhaling automobile exhaust fumes, which he had introduced from the tail pipe through a hose into his
station wagon, he died in the same academic obscurity in which he had lived, unheralded and almost
unrecognized in his discipline.
Ironically, the scientist’s only public recognition had come from lay people, who had read his
series of four books about unidentified flying objects.
Morris K. Jessup’s first book, The Case For the UFO, had tended to alienate him from his
colleagues, though it came and went with relatively few sales. Its publisher sold it off to second-hand
bookstores at $1.00 each. Today it brings $25.00 or better per copy, if you can find one.
It was a paperback edition of the same book, published in 1955 by Bantam Books that enmeshed
Jessup in one of the most bizarre mysteries in UFO history. An annotated reprint of the paperback was
laboriously typed out on offset stencils and printed in a very small run by a Garland, Texas manufacturing
company which produced equipment for the military.
Each page was run through the small office duplicator twice, once with black ink for the regular
text of the book, then once again with red ink, the latter reproducing the mysterious annotations by three
men, who may have been gypsies, hoaxters, or space people living among men. The spiral bound 8 ½”
X 11” volume, containing more that 200 pages, became known as The Annotated Edition. The reprint
quickly became legend. A few civilian UFO enthusiasts claimed to have seen copies, and it was rumored
that a few close associates of the late Mr. Jessup possessed copies. Many people claimed it simply had
Because you are now holding a virtually exact facsimile of The Annotated Edition in your hands, it
is most obvious that the book existed. But the big mystery still remains: why did a Government contractor
go to so much trouble to reprint a book that had been rejected by the scientific community, and further to
include mysterious letters to the author and even more bizarre annotations? And with this mystery goes
the suspicion that the book may have been printed by the manufacturer at the request of the military,
which implies Government interest in some of the weirdest aspects of “Flying Saucer” study.
Not much detail is known of Jessup’s life before he emerged as one of the early writers on UFOs,
mainly because nobody has taken the trouble to do the needed research. Probably the most that Ufology
knows about him prior to his involvement with flying saucers is contained on the jacket flap of his first
He is described as having been an instructor in astronomy and mathematics at the University of
Michigan and Drake University. The Jacket copy also notes that Jessup completed his thesis for the
doctorate degree in astro-physics at the University of Michigan, though it does not state whether on not
he was awarded the actual degree. In the academic business, usually the thesis is the thing that comes
last, and is the final step in the awarding of the doctorate degree. Sometimes these doctoral candidates
are deferentially called “Doctor” by their associates, though it cannot be used officially by them. This
would seem to be the case of Jessup, who was often addressed as “Dr. Jessup”, but who never used the
title in correspondence, nor on the covers or title pages of his four books. Very likely Jessup was never
actually awarded the degree.
Apparently, his thesis consisted of a report on his research program which (again according to
the book jacket) resulted in several thousand discoveries of physical double-stars “which are now
catalogued in the Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society of London”.
The short biography also lists other important research activities by Jessup. It indicates that he
was assigned by the United State Department of Agriculture to study the sources of crude rubber in the
headwaters of the Amazon, though no date is given. He made archeological studies of the Maya in the
jungles of Central America for the Carnegie Institute of Washington.
Without identifying the source of sponsorship or financing, the jacket states that he explored Inca
ruins in Peru, and concluded that the stonework he found there had been “erected by the levitating power
of space ships in antediluvian times”. Also:
“Mr. Jessup’s latest explorations have taken him to the high plateau of Mexico where he has
discovered an extensive group of craters. They are as large as, and similar to, the mysterious lunar
craters Linne and Hyginus N, and he believes them to have been made by objects from space. They are
presently under study by means of aerial photography and the study will be ready for publication in
approximately eighteen months”.
Apparently the further exploration of the craters was never carried out. According to James W.
Moseley, former publisher of Saucer News, Jessup sought university, foundation and private sponsorship
of the project, but was unsuccessful in gaining sufficient interest and funds.
The Allende Letters
The mystery of the annotated paperback edition of The Case for the UFO was preceded by a
series of strange letters from Carlos Miguel Allende addressed to Jessup. Two of these, reproduced as
part of the Annotated Edition, appear in the following pages. The letters claimed that as a result of a
strange experiment at sea utilizing principles of Einstein’s Unified Field Theory, a destroyer and all its
crew became invisible during October, 1943.
“The Field was effective in an oblate spheroidal shape,” Allende wrote. He added that “any
person within that sphere became vague in form, and that as a result of the experiment some of the crew
went insane. Further horrifying aspects of the alleged experiment are detailed in the two letters (See
The Allende letters became connected with The Annotated Edition when the Varo Manufacturing
Company evidently got in touch with Jessup in regard to the latter.
Varo’s unusual involvement in the mystery began a few months after February 1956, In April of
that year Admiral N. Furth, Chief of the Office of Naval Research, Washington D.C., received a manila
envelope postmarked Seminole, a small town in Texas. Written across its face was the notation “Happy
Easter”. When Furth opened the envelope he found a copy of the Jessup paperback. We are not certain
of Furth’s reactions, but we can assume that he thumbed through the book and that his interest was
piqued by a series of notes, interjections, underscorings, etc., in three colors of ink, apparently written by
three different people. Only the name of one of the authors of the annotations appeared in the notes, that
The paperback had apparently been passed through the hands of the strange annotators several
times. This conclusion could be drawn from the fact that the notes indicated discussions between two or
all three of the men, with questions answered, and places where parts of a note had been marked
through, underlined, or added to by one or both of the other men. Some had been deleted by marking
The notes had a tone of absolute weirdness. Sometimes they agreed with Jessup’s original text;
sometimes they contradicted it, as they referred to two types of people living in space. They specified two
habitats for the space people: underseas, and what they termed the “stasis neutral”, the latter term
apparently in agreement with Jessup’s exposition on points of neutral gravity in space.
They mentioned the building of undersea cities and identified two groups of spacemen, “L-M’s”
and “S-M’s”. The “L-M’s” were designated as peaceful, the “S-M’s” as sinister.
Some of the terms used would have been familiar to any ufologist of the 1950’s, yet others
expressed an alien-like vocabulary which had never been previously used in “saucer” literature.
Some of the terms were: Mothership, home-ship, dead-ship, great ark, great bombardment, great
return, great war, little-men, force-fields, deep freezes, measure markers, scout ships, magnetic and
gravity fields, sheet of diamond, cosmic rays, force cutters, inlay work, clear-talk, telepathing, burning
“coat”, nodes, vortice, magnetic “net”.
They explained what happened to people and to ships and planes which had disappeared, as
discussed in Jessup‘s original text – and elaborated upon the origin of odd storms and clouds, objects
falling from the sky, strange marks and footprints, and other matters Jessup wrote about.
We do not know Admiral Furth’s personal reaction to the strangely marked paperback. The
history of this matter, again from a confidential source, next surfaces several months later, in July or
August of the same year, when the paperback was passed on to Major Darrel L. Ritter, U.S.M.C.,
Aeronautical Project Officer of ONR. Soon afterward, and no date is available, Captain Sidney Sherby
joined ONR, and, along with Commander George W. Hoover, Special Projects Officer, ONR, indicated
interest in the book.
Sherby and Hoover were deeply involved in satellite development, and supervising the systems
which would later place the first U.S. satellite into orbit. Some UFO buffs have expressed the belief that
they were also coordinating gravity research, and that this was the reason for their interest.
The book was evidently taken to the Varo firm by Sherby, possibly in conjunction with Hoover. At
that time, Varo was deeply involved in aero-space design and manufacturing for the military. One division
was called “Military Assistance”, which may have coordinated the firm’s activities with the government,
and occasionally performed personal services for military personnel (as any commercial organization
At any rate, the Military Assistance Division agreed to run off a limited number of copies of the
annotated book, and it was laboriously typed out my Miss Michael Ann Dunn, personal secretary to the
president of the company, a Mr. Stanton. (Incidentally, Miss Dunn no longer is employed by Varo. Varo
says that personnel records fails to find a record of her employment!)
Two theories evolve as to Varo’s role in publishing the Annotated Edition:
(1) Top military brass passed this down through the lower echelon, thus avoiding the
responsibility should there be any publicity, and it was published surreptitiously by Varo, the personnel of
which may have had top military security clearance – avoiding sending it to a government printing source,
where word might leak out. The Military was interested in applications of the notes to secret research
being carried out by the U.S. After printing, the limited edition could be passed around to interested
persons, and distributed to other contractors engaged in secret military development.
(2) Lower echelon officers, such as Sherby, had deep personal interests in the UFO mystery, and
wanted copies to give to other Naval personnel who held similar interests. As a matter of personal
interest, they asked the Varo company to make the reprint, knowing that the contractor would comply, as
one of the many personal favors they may have extended to military personnel.
The latter of these alternatives is the writer's best guess. No great degree of secrecy seemed to
have been employed. Jessup was called in by Varo and shown the book, and nothing in his subsequent
writings or reported conversations indicates he was requested to maintain secrecy. Permission was
obtained both from the author and the publisher, Citadel Press, to reproduce the text of the original book.
Jessup was given several copies, probably the source of the copies a few UFO researchers reportedly
One such copy, according to Riley H. Crabb, Director of Borderland Sciences Research, has
been given to the late Bryant H. Reeves, author of two books published by Ray Palmer.
Crabb told me recently that he saw the Varo Edition while visiting Reeves at his home in Virginia
Beach. Reeves agreed to lend the volume for a brief period, and Crabb, who told me he felt that both he
and Reeves were "under surveillance", hesitated to carry it with him back to his home in California. He
posted it to himself, but it was lost in the mails.
A tradition of bad luck or strange circumstances is connected with possession of the Varo Edition.
One person's home, along with the book, was destroyed by fire shortly after he acquired a copy. Capt.
Edward J. Ruppelt, former head of Project Bluebook, suffered a fatal heart attack, allegedly shortly after
he read a borrowed copy. Robert Loftin, UFO author, who also died prematurely, was another rumored
owner of the book. Of course, except for the deaths, thus is purely hearsay, and, if true, could have been
the result of coincidence.
Regardless of the motivation behind printing the Annotated Edition, neither Varo nor the military
could foresee the zeal of civilian UFO research in its probing of the matter. Intrigued by the mystery, and
questioning the untimely death of Jessup, Ufologists began delving. At least two national magazine
articles explored Jessup's death and his connection with the book.
Our Personal Involvement
Our personal involvement with the mystery surrounding Jessup began after we heard of his
suicide and began looking into rumors involving the above matters. Our findings became the basis for a
book, The Strange Case of Dr. M.K. Jessup, published in 1963 by Saucerian Books, and reprinted in
1965 and 1967.
The book contained a chapter about The Annotated Edition and reproduced the Preface with
annotations, though not in facsimile. The Preface was provided by Riley Crabb of the Borderland
Sciences Research Associates Foundation, Inc. Our interest continued, though we had never seen an
actual copy of The Annotated Edition, and often doubted that it really existed.
One of our correspondents claimed to possess the complete volume in photocopy form and sent
us second generation copies of a few pages to prove his point. Brad Steiger provided miniature
reproductions of three actual pages to illustrate an article, "Fantastic Key to the Flying Saucer Mystery," in
Saga magazine, November, 1967. He noted that the reproductions were from a microfilm copy owned by
We finally acquired one of the rare original copies in 1971 from a friend of the late Mr. Jessup, to
whom he had given one of the few copies supplied him by its publisher. Observing the clarity of the
printing and the good physical condition of our copy we began exploring the idea of a facsimile reprint.
I am president of a small publishing company, Saucerian Press, Inc., which specializes in limited
editions of works pertaining to unidentified flying objects. Sales of these books rarely exceed 2,000
copies, and the main purpose of the publisher is to provide distribution for works, sales of which do not
warrant general trade publication.
Publishing a facsimile of The Annotated Edition would present problems. It contained about twice
the number of pages of our usual publications; it demanded expensive separation negatives and printing,
and its appeal would be much more limited than our usual books. It would demand a run of no more than
500 copies and would have to sell at a relatively high price. While prudence urged that the idea be
dropped, two overwhelming considerations urged us on. The original edition of The Case For the UFO
had long been out of print, was becoming very rare among antiquarian dealers. The Annotated Edition
was almost legendary, surrounded by excessive mystery and controversy, and unavailable to serious
students of the UFO mystery, either in libraries or by their own personal acquisition.
In July 1972, Saucerian Press made the positive decision to publish this edition.
The Facsimile Edition
We have reproduced the original as faithfully as possible, within the photo-mechanical means
available to us.
The body of the facsimile edition begins with the Introduction on the following page. No
information as to the authorship of this Introduction is given in the original. It is, however, competently
done, helps to explain what is to follow and comments further upon the arrangement of the volume.
In our original copy the Appendix is bound between the original Introduction to Jessup's text and
Part One of the body of the book. While this could be a mistake in binding, the Appendix, consisting of
the two Allende letters, does help set the tone and scene for The Annotated Edition and most likely was
bound there on purpose. Not having a second coy for comparison, we have included the Appendix at the
same place, even though this represents a radical placement.
The writer is happy that this work is going to be printed. He believes it will represent a
contribution to the literature of Ufology, some minor monument to those strange and wonderful times that
began with Kenneth Arnold in 1947.