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
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.
Biography was written with the aid of Wikipedia entry on The Flat Earth Society
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:
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.
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.
The material has been appraised
There are no anticipated additions
Basic listing provided by the North East London Polytechnic in c.1971
Access is open to bona fide researchers
Reproduction and licensing rules available on request
A hard copy of this description is available for consultation in the reading room
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.
Contains typed and handwritten letters to Samuel Shenton regarding the Flat Earth Society. Letters are arranged alphabetically.
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.
Contains photographs of Samuel Shenton, items from newspapers, posters and diagrams, and photos taken from space.
Includes large-scale, hand-drawn posters in watercolour, poster paint and crayon. They depict diagrams, maps, pictures of the Earth, and Biblical verses.
Handwritten notes and diagrams created by Samuel Shenton.
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.
Contains copies of the following pamphlets and journals:
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'.
Magazines on science, astronomy and Christianity. Bird's Eye View features and article by Shenton.
Clippings feature Samuel Shenton, the Flat Earth Society, and the moon landings.
Contains envelopes and letter heads with the details of the Flat Earth Society.
Contains the following works:
Also includes bound copies of The Earth vols. 3-4.
Draft typsecripts of Earth Not a Globe! can be found at FES/6 .
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.-->