Using the Project Blue Book Archive

Tom DeMary – 18 February 2005

Simply accessing a microfilm roll in the PBBA and reading the pages in order is easy; finding a particular report is more difficult. The date of the report will be almost certainly required to locate a report in the PBBA. Finding a report is a two step process. First, the number of microfilm roll containing the report must be looked up; then the report has to be located in the pages from the roll.

A microfilm roll index is provided at the beginning of roll #1 of the NARA collection. The roll index shows which dates are included on each roll. The roll index also includes a complete breakdown of the administrative files, but links to the administrative files are now provided by the archive. To see the roll index, click on the browse tab in the page header, then select NARA Blue Book Microfilm, and then select Blue Book Rolls Index under the first microfilm roll. This link actually points to the beginning of the microfilm roll index.

The inclusive dates of the reports on each microfilm roll are the important information. The location information is only needed when there is more than one report on the date of interest, and the reports for that date are split across two rolls. The date is the only useful key to determine the roll on which a report is located.

The roll index occupies pages 3–11. Rolls 85–87 contain PBB administrative files. The bulk of rolls 93 and 94 are the photographs. Unfortunately, their reproduction in the high contrast, duotone microfilm process renders them nearly impossible to see. Rolls 88–92 contain files from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) in support of the PBB investigations. Some of these agent reports and correspondence are included in the relevant UFO reports; others are not. Since these files are ordered by HQ and district offices, it can be a chore to find the appropriate files; there is no index. The entry for roll #91 was evidently omitted. Roll #91 begins with files from District 14 (Lowry AFB, Denver, CO).

Following the roll index, there is a report index which gives a report number, Project Sign incident number (except for the first page), date, location, witness (blacked out), and the evaluation for each of the reports. There is no indication of microfilm roll numbers on the report index pages. Neither is there any indication of the location of a report or its size on the roll. The reports are usually in the order listed (except for a few problems), and one simply has to estimate a report’s approximate place in the pages, and search for the desired date.

The report index is huge (pages 12–476). The pages are messy, but generally legible. These report index pages list reports in blocks of months. A page may list the reports for a portion of a month, a single month, or several months. The evaluation column gives the official BB solution for each of the reports.

The hand written report numbers were added during the preparations for microfilming, and do not actually appear on the reports in the file. A few authors have referred these numbers, but the numbers are not widely used. A close inspection of the numbers will reveal that they are not in perfect date order, and that a few numbers are not used. Sometimes the same number was applied to folders containing several reports that were presumed to be related, and other times, a single number is used for collections of info files.

Continuing with roll #1, page 477 is a repeat of the report index for June 1947, and the reports begin on the following page. The first page of a case file is usually a “Project 10073” summary card, which gives a very brief summary of the case. These cards are generally quite legible, and contain the information to identify the case, but not nearly enough information to evaluate it properly. A few cases are preceded by a paper form with the same information as the card. These cards and references to sighting dates (not the dates on the correspondence, which may be years different) are the best means of finds one’s place when searching the through the reports.

Tom DeMary – 18 February 2005