List of the papers of the Flat Earth Society, 1858-1992

Author: Elinor Robinson
Held at: University of Liverpool Library, Special Collections and Archives
Reference and contact details: GB 141 FES
Title: The Papers of the Flat Earth Society
Dates of Creation: 1858-1992
Extent: 31 boxes and folders
Name of Creator: The Flat Earth Society
Level of Description: fonds
Language of Material: English, Portuguese

Adminstrative/Biographical History

Samuel Shenton, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Geographic Society, founded the Flat Earth Society in 1956, after renaming it from the Universal Zetetic Society. The UZS itself supported the views of 19th century astronomer Samuel Birley Rowbotham, who devised experiments to prove that the Earth was not in fact a globe, and the sea was a perfect plane. The Flat Earth Society continued this work, using select scientific observations and Biblical quotations to support their claim that the Earth is a motionless disc and not an orbiting globe. Faced with photographic evidence provided by orbiting satellites and the moon landings, the Flat Earth Society went on the claim that the moon landings were a hoax and any pictures taken from space could easily be misinterpreted by the untrained eye. Shenton himself collected material, gave lectures and generated publicity for the Society so that by his death in 1971 the Society had over 100 members. Following his death the Society was taken over by Charles K. Johnson in the USA, and under his directorship the Society's membership increased to about 3,000. Subsequent to Johnson's death in 2001 the fate of the Society remains uncertain, and a new, ostensibly unrelated Flat Earth Society now exists on the internet.

Archivist's Note

Biography was written with the aid of Wikipedia entry on The Flat Earth Society

Scope and Content

The collection comprises the papers of the Flat Earth Society during Samuel Shenton's involvement with the society (1956-1971). The material includes incoming and outgoing correspondence, promotional material such as leaflets and posters, magazines, manuscripts, lecture material including maps and diagrams, photographs, press cuttings, notes, books on astromony and the Earth, and various other ephemera.


The original order of the papers has been maintained as far as possible. The collection is arranged as follows:

  • FES/1 : Correspondence In
  • FES/2 : Correspondence Out
  • FES/3 : Photographs
  • FES/4 : Lecture Diagrams
  • FES/5 : Notes
  • FES/6 : Manuscripts
  • FES/7 : Pamphlets and Journals
  • FES/8 : Magazines
  • FES/9 : Press Cuttings
  • FES/10 : Stationery
  • FES/11 : Books
  • FES/12 : Post-Shenton material

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Science Fiction Foundation at the North East London Polytechnic in 1971. The archive was then moved to the University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives in 1993 as part of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection.

Custodial History

Initially in the custody of the Flat Earth Society. In 1971 it was given to Ellis Hillman of the North East London Polytechnic and consequently donated to the Science Fiction Foundation. In 1993 it was transferred from the North East London Polytechnic to the University of Liverpool as part of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection.

Appraisal Information

The material has been appraised


There are no anticipated additions

Processing Information

Basic listing provided by the North East London Polytechnic in c.1971

Access Conditions

Access is open to bona fide researchers

Copyright / Reproduction

Reproduction and licensing rules available on request

Finding Aids

A hard copy of this description is available for consultation in the reading room

Related Material

The University of Liverpool Library's Special Collections Catalogue contains a small number of works relating to flat earth theories. An online article, The Flat-Out Truth, referes to Charles K. Johnson. There is also an independent Flat Earth Society on the internet.

Control Access Headings

Shenton, Samuel (d 1971) Astronomer
Johnson, Charles K (d 2001) Flat Earth Society President
Flat Earth Society

Reference and contact details: FES/1

Correspondence In

Dates of Creation: 1961-1971
Extent: 10 folders ; correspondence

Scope and Content

Contains typed and handwritten letters to Samuel Shenton regarding the Flat Earth Society. Letters are arranged alphabetically.

Reference and contact details: FES/2

Correspondence Out

Dates of Creation: 1964-1970
Extent: 1 folder ; correspondence

Scope and Content

Contains typed and handwritten letters from Samuel Shenton regarding the Flat Earth Society, arranged in reverse chronological order. Also includes notecards with details of correspondents.

Reference and contact details: FES/3


Dates of Creation: c. 1948-1969
Extent: 1 box ; black and white photographs

Scope and Content

Contains photographs of Samuel Shenton, items from newspapers, posters and diagrams, and photos taken from space.

Reference and contact details: FES/4

Lecture Diagrams

Dates of Creation: not dated
Extent: 2 boxes and 1 holdall ; posters , diagrams

Scope and Content

Includes large-scale, hand-drawn posters in watercolour, poster paint and crayon. They depict diagrams, maps, pictures of the Earth, and Biblical verses.

Reference and contact details: FES/5


Dates of Creation: c.1954-1970
Extent: 1 folder

Scope and Content

Handwritten notes and diagrams created by Samuel Shenton.

Reference and contact details: FES/6


Dates of Creation: c.1873
Extent: 2 boxes ; typescripts

Scope and Content

Contains 2 typescripts of the second edition of Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe by "Parallax" (Samuel Birley Rowbotham) dated 1873, and a typsecript of an unpublished work Our Earth: Flat Not Spherical by Frederick H. Cook, not dated.

Reference and contact details: FES/7

Pamphlets and Journals

Dates of Creation: c.1897-1956
Extent: 2 boxes

Scope and Content

Contains copies of the following pamphlets and journals:

  • Is the Earth a Globe Whirling in Space?
  • The Secrets of Nature Exhumed
  • Zetetic Cosmology
  • Bible Astronomy
  • The Sea-Earth Globe and its Monstrous Hypothetical Motions
  • Sight Limitations
  • Is the Newtonian Astronomy True?
  • The Earth - includes issues 47/48, 56, 72/73 and 74/75
  • Total Solar Eclipse of 1954 June 30
  • Science of Astronomy / The Midnight Sun
  • Heaven and Earth
  • Foundations of Many Generations
  • Basis for Belief in a New World
  • Truth - The Earth is Flat
  • Zetetic Astronomy
  • The Observatory - August 1956 issue
  • The Great Symbol
  • Save Our Children
  • The Earth a Plane
  • Atlantean Research - includes issues vol. 1 no. 5 to vol. 2 no. 6
  • The Glacial Period and Drayton's Hypothesis

Authors include Lady "Zeteo" Blount, Albert Smith, T. Winship, S. G. Fowler and Brother Sydney T. Klein.


Known in initial listing as 'Leaflets' and 'Pamphlets'.

Reference and contact details: FES/8


Dates of Creation: c. 1956-1970
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Magazines on science, astronomy and Christianity. Bird's Eye View features and article by Shenton.

Reference and contact details: FES/9

Press Cuttings

Dates of Creation: 1954-1969
Extent: 5 folders

Scope and Content

Clippings feature Samuel Shenton, the Flat Earth Society, and the moon landings.

Reference and contact details: FES/10


Dates of Creation: not dated
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Contains envelopes and letter heads with the details of the Flat Earth Society.

Reference and contact details: FES/11


Dates of Creation: c. 1858-1969
Extent: 14 items

Scope and Content

Contains the following works:

  • H. Benedy , A terra nao e Esferica
  • Raymond A. Lyttleton , The Modern Universe
  • David Wardlow Scott , Terra Firma - The Earth not a Planet
  • "Parallax" , Earth Not a Globe! Zetetic Astronomy
  • "Racional Superior" , O universo em Descento
  • Gerrard Hickson , Kings Dethroned
  • Various , The Plane Earth
  • Garrett P. Serviss , The Moon
  • Rev. Lewis Tomlinson , Recreations in Astronomy
  • Sir Robert S. Ball , In the High Heavens
  • Lady E. A. M. Blount , Flat or Spherical?

Also includes bound copies of The Earth vols. 3-4.


Draft typsecripts of Earth Not a Globe! can be found at FES/6 .

Reference and contact details: FES/12

Post-Shenton material

Dates of Creation: 1981-1991
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Contains items concerning the Flat Earth Society after Shenton's death in 1971. These include letters to the North East London Polytechnic requesting information on the Society, articles on flat Earth theory, and the book A Reparation: Universal Gravitation a Universal Fake by C. S. Deford.


Some of this material was donated to the collection by R. J. Schadewald in 1992.