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Ann Druffel Special Collection

Browse records from a pioneer in UFO research, including a section on Dr. James E. McDonald

Ann Druffel Special Collection

Ann Druffel (1926-2020) was among the original researchers for the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. She authored six books and was perhaps best known for Firestorm: Dr. James E. McDonald's Fight for UFO Science. She wrote numerous articles for magazines and contributed over 190 pieces to UFO publications.

Ann was born in Riverside, California, the youngest of three daughters to William "Mac" McElroy and Aileen Walsh McElroy. She was a lifelong devoted Catholic. In 1945 Ann and her mother experienced an extended UFO sighting, a bright object in the daylight sky over Long Beach which seemed to release a series of several smaller objects. The event impacted the rest of her life.

She met her future husband, Charlie Druffel, at the Catholic Alumni Club in 1951. They were wed in 1953 and had five daughters.

Ann Druffel is remembered as a devoted wife of 48 years, a loving mother, and an author and researcher of 60 years. She is considered an early icon of a strong woman both inside and outside the home.

Below you will find select items contained in the Ann Druffel Special Collection, generously donated by the Druffel family.

"I write because I am impelled to write..."
- Ann Druffel


Dr. James E. McDonald

James Edward McDonald (1920-1971) was a physicist, most widely known for his UFO research. He was a senior physicist at the Insitute for Atmospheric Physics and a professor of meteorology at the University of Arizona.

The following 20-page pdf contains articles on the work of McDonald and related correspondence pertaining to Australian UFO reports:

McDonald Australia

The two-page file below contains McDonald's dissenting view of the Condon Report as presented to the DuPont Chapter of the Scientific Research Society of America in 1969:

McDonald DuPont

The following 21-page file contains correspondence conducted between Sen. Barry Goldwater and James McDonald and Ann Druffel, respectively, among others. Also included are related articles. The file contains letters reflecting Druffel's efforts in 1994 to interview Goldwater about James McDonald. Goldwater repeatedly declined. Barry Goldwater was a presidential nominee and member of the NICAP Board of Governors (See more records pertaining to Goldwater in the FOIA Documents section of the Expanding Frontiers Archive).

Goldwater, Barry

The three-page file linked below includes a 1966 memo apparently authored by Richard Hall and titled, "USAF SHAKE-UP". Hall outlines his off-the-record assessments of James McDonald's then-recent trip to Dayton, an apparent reference to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Hall seemed encouraged Air Force efforts to investigate UFOs would conform to better meet his expectations. His memo may actually be documentation of some of his initial exposure to indications of the coming of what would prove to be the Condon Committee, a group funded by the USAF from 1966-1968 to assess UFO evidence. Names referenced or inferred in this file include Project Blue Book, Gen. Cruikshank, Col. Louis DeGoes, Ann Druffel, Maj. Bruce A. Dolan, John G. Fuller, Richard Hall, Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, Jim Hughes, J. Allen Hynek, James McDonald, Donald H. Menzel, the Robertson Panel, Maj. Boyce M. Smith, and Maj. Hector Quintanilla, Jr.


A McDonald family holiday card

Ronilyn L. McDonald

Ronilyn L. McDonald is a daughter of James McDonald. She was recognized in 1967, while earning a Bachelors in Psychology, as a top ten student at the University of Arizona. Her thesis of the same year and titled Psychological Aspects of Unidentified Flying Objects, may be viewed and downloaded below:

Honors Thesis


Gordon Creighton Correspondence, 1999-2001

View correspondence exchanged between Ann Druffel and Gordon Creighton (1908-2003), a British diplomat, civil servant, and editor of Flying Saucer Review. Persons of interest include Robert Bigelow, Joseph Firmage, Creighton's unapologetic contempt for Jenny Randles, and his multiple references to Prince Hans Adams II and the reigning family of Liechtenstein, among many others.

"Bigelow's remarks do not really surprise me," Creighton wrote Druffel in 1999, "because I know that, nearly ten years ago, a well known European Prince who has an immense admiration for FSR (and who channels money for UFO research through the U.S. Fund For Research) told me he was going to contact them about sending a big donation to me, but we never heard another word from either him or the Fund, so I guess the Fund 'snuffed' the idea at its source!"

View and download the full 16-page file:

Creighton, Gordon

The ending of a 10-page letter authored by Gordon Creighton in 2001

Isabel Davis

This 50-page file contains mid-20th century material from a variety of sources directed to longtime NICAP investigator Isabel Davis. Items include discussion of the NICAP changing of the guard, events surrounding Kenneth Arnold (including references to Fred Crisman and Harold Dahl), perspectives on the Betty and Barney Hill case, and much more.

Davis, Isabel

Double UFOs

This 62-page pdf contains witness accounts; reports composed by field investigators; correspondence conducted with commercial airline professionals; newspaper clippings; material published by Ann Druffel, and similar items related to "double UFOs," or what might be described as multiple flying objects perceived by witnesses, sometimes seemingly attached together in ways that were difficult for observers to understand.

Double UFOs

Esalen UFO Conference

According to the Esalen Insitute and, more specifically, former Chairman of the Board Jeff Kripal, there were two major UFO conferences in the early era of the Institute. The first was in 1975, Kripal wrote, and was so secret that it had to be held off grounds at a private ranch in Sonoma County. The second was in 1986.

The 7-page document linked below is an agenda for the 1986 event, The Esalen Conference on Further Reaches of UFO Research. Names referenced include Richard "Dick" Haines, Jim Harder, Budd Hopkins, Ida Kannenberg, Bruce Maccabee, Berthold Schwarz, Willy Smith, Leo Sprinkle and Peter Sturrock, among others.

Esalen UFO Conference

The Esalen website states it is a creative laboratory and incubator of human potential. It is further described as a world renowned holistic learning and leading global retreat center for guests and faculty to explore and realize their human potential.

Richard Hall and Gordon Lore

The 28-page pdf linked below includes correspondence conducted by Ann Druffel, Gordon Lore and Richard Hall, including Lore addressing why he felt the CIA significantly influenced NICAP operations. Also included is a 1969 proposal authored by Hall for resolving NICAP challenges. The proposal was not incorporated by the powers that be. The file additionally includes discussion of James McDonald and excerpts of Ann Druffel's writing about the related circumstances.

Druffel, Lore, Hall

Access an mp3 containing four and a half minutes of an interview Ann Druffel conducted with Richard Hall. They discuss Hall's perspectives on the rise and fall of NICAP, aspects of his 1994 writing on the issues, and the intelligence community.

Dick Hall 2

Heflin Chronology of Events

The afternoon of August 3, 1965, a traffic investigator for the Orange County Engineering Department, Rex Heflin, took a series of photographs in Santa Ana, California. The object depicted in the photos and the conditions under which they were taken have been debated ever since.

The 12-page pdf linked below includes a chronology of the events surrounding the case as prepared by the Los Angeles NICAP Subcommittee. It addresses and documents many aspects of the saga, some of which went on to take on dubious lives of their own in the years ahead, such as a rumor that Heflin was visited by infamous Men In Black who claimed to be from NORAD and took his photos with them. The document suggests much less dramatic circumstances. It says he reportedly received a telephone call from someone claiming to be associated with NORAD and never heard from them again. This and many more aspects of the case are explored.

Heflin Chronology of Events

One of the 1965 Heflin photos

Letter from Betty Hill

Betty Hill wrote a letter to Ann Druffel in 1993 in which she expressed much doubt about the abundance of claims of alleged alien abduction. Betty went on to state the investigators shared fault with the claimants, describing an incident in which a very well known investigator persisted with stories of alien abduction and inisistance of employing hypnosis as an investigative technique with a woman who steadfastly denied so much as ever seeing a UFO.

Emphasizing her lack of confidence in UFO investigators, Betty described an incident to Ann in which she gave one a report. The investigator later told her, Betty wrote, that he took the report, changed it a bit, and sold it for a good price.

Betty further stated she was paid to lecture about UFOs at different military bases. "Also I have been paid by different government agencies for some of my research," Betty asserted to Ann.

Download the letter in pdf:

Betty Hill April 23, 1993

Hynek Articles

This 14-page file contains articles written by and pertaining to Dr. J. Allen Hynek. Topics include Hynek's rebuttal to the Condon Report, plans to launch the Center for UFO Studies, and more.

Hynek Articles

UFO Sightings

The folder linked below contains material such as reports composed by investigators and correspondence conducted by witnesses and NICAP personnel. The folder consists of the following pdf cases:

DeJohn, Francis five pages

Duich, Paul, Sighting 1958 five pages

Guminindi Sighting ten pages

Jantsch Sighting, May 15, 1962 six pages

Lemon Grove, Dec. 19, 1966 seven pages

Access the folder:


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