How did Doc Switzer get tangled up with the CIA? All roads lead to the RDB

You know what’s really hard? Trying to figure out the precise way in which something happened nearly 70 years ago is really hard. I mean, you find a couple memos that are riddled with black blotches, you hear a few tales from way back when, you stumble upon several additional details that seem apropos of the situation, and all of the sudden, you think you know how everything went down. But do you know what else can happen? Nuances can happen—like the Sliding Doors phenomenon, where things play out wildly differently depending on whether Gwyneth Paltrow makes the subway or just misses it, or when a butterfly in Zimbabwe flaps its wings and causes a hurricane in south Texas…those sorts of unpredictables. 

The question we’ll be delving into today is what’s the most likely way in which St. Clair Switzer, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves and Ron Tammen’s psychology professor, wound up dabbling in Project Artichoke?

Here’s the sequence of events as I initially pictured them: 

On Tuesday, February 12, 1952, Morse Allen, a career CIA guy, went bounding off to his job in the Office of Security. He was super stoked about what he’d been tasked to do, which was to handle all the day-to-day operations in pursuit of controlling the minds of the nation’s and world’s citizenry—or at least certain unlucky members thereof. 

On that particular morning, between 10:20 and 11:45 to be exact, he was on the receiving end of an earful from one Commander Robert J. (R.J.) Williams. Williams was in the CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence and he was the project coordinator for Artichoke. He was also frustrated with how things were progressing. At the top of Williams’ wish list was a cadre of scientists with whom to consult who had expertise in the latest and greatest of a wide range of possible Artichoke techniques. Meanwhile, Allen and the crowd he ran with had been tinkering with only two of them: hypnosis and truth drugs. 

On March 25, in response to R.J.’s concerns, Allen typed up a memo describing a conversation he’d recently had with one of the foremost experts in hypnosis. This was no stage act hypnotist, mind you. He’d spoken with the big kahuna himself—Clark Hull, a renowned psychologist and academician who’d written the seminal book on hypnosis, Hypnosis and Suggestibility: An Experimental Approach. Alas, Hull was old (he was only 68, but they wore their ages differently back then) and sickly (he died a little over six weeks later). What’s more, he had absolutely zero interest in hypnosis after he’d published his book. 

My guess is that it was during this conversation or maybe in a follow-up, after he’d given it some thought, that Hull had passed along to Allen the names of two of his top protégées as possible resources for the CIA’s hypnosis studies. In his third and fourth paragraphs, Allen tells R.J. about the two promising experts, who were by then psychology professors in their own right. Although their names have been redacted, they were St. Clair Switzer (I’m 100% positive), at Miami University, and Griffith Wynne Williams (I’m pretty sure), at Rutgers. Switzer’s added bonus was that he’d been a pharmacist before he studied psychology, which means that he also happened to know a lot about drugs.

What happened next was where I relied on logic and intuition. I figured that Switzer was probably contacted by someone with the CIA, because, by fall, he appeared to be embarking on some sort of hypnosis study or studies on Miami’s campus. There were students being recruited on the front lawn of Fisher Hall that September for a hypnosis project coordinated by the psychology department. Three Ohio youths had wandered off with amnesia around that time and then, happily, returned. One psychology student was told by the department chair that Ron Tammen had a proneness to dissociation. Things were happening in Oxford that appeared to be relevant. 

Nevertheless, the evidence was admittedly thin and some pieces didn’t quite fit. For example, I’ve often wondered what research questions concerning hypnosis Dr. Switzer was pursuing at that time. His name has never been linked with CIA-sponsored research, such as the MKULTRA subprojects, which came later, beginning in April 1953. What could the CIA have been asking of him beginning in the spring of 1952?

As it happens, I no longer think that Dr. Switzer received a call from the CIA in March 1952. In my revised screenplay, there was no “Allen Dulles is on line two” defining moment.

I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t we still talking about Project Artichoke? If not the CIA, then who?

Me: You guys, I think Dr. Switzer was approached by someone with the RDB.

You: 🤨

Me:. You know, the RDB? Short for the Research and Development Board?


You make an excellent point. The name is so nothing. So benign. So deadly dull. But that’s deceptive. The RDB was the research arm of the Department of Defense (DoD), created through the National Security Act of 1947 to coordinate the military’s research endeavors. On the DoD’s 1952 organizational chart, the RDB was on the same level as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both of which answered directly to the Secretary of Defense, who happened to be Robert A. Lovett. 

In order to make its important research and development decisions, the RDB would oversee expert committees and panels, which, in the spring of 1950, involved some 1500 people, mostly volunteers.  (The volunteers would have been experts who were already paid a salary by their military or civilian employers, and it would have been considered an honor to serve.) By the mid-1950s, the RDB’s permanent full-time staff totaled 315. To spell it out as simply as possible, OMG, the RDB was a BFD.

At the top of the RDB sat seven people: a civilian chairperson, who in 1952 was Walter G. Whitman, head of MIT’s chemical engineering department. The other six posts were held by members of the military’s three branches: Army, Navy, and Air Force. In 1948, the two Air Force representatives were Joseph T. McNarney, commanding general of Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and L.C. Craigie, director of the Research and Development Office, who relocated to Wright Patterson AFB in September as commandant of the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology. Hence, both of the Air Force reps were with Wright Patt that year.

In 1949, Karl Compton, another MIT dignitary, chaired the RDB. The Air Force was represented by McNarney again, as well as Donald L. Putt, then stationed in Washington, DC, as deputy chief of staff for materiel, which is military-speak for supplies, equipment, and weapons—everything the military buys. Putt was from Sugarcreek, OH, also called “Little Switzerland of Ohio,” which is home to the “World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock.”

This clock looked a lot bigger when I was younger.

Putt was also a longtime friend of Wright Patterson AFB. He started at Wright Field as a test pilot, then as a student at the Air Corps Engineering School, and following WWII, he headed intelligence for the Air Technical Service Command and later, the Engineering Division. In 1952, the two Air Force representatives were Roswell Gilpatric, the undersecretary of the Air Force, and Putt, who was working concurrently as a vice commander of the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) in Baltimore as well as commander of the Wright Air Development Center (WADC), at, you guessed it, Wright Patt. 

So Wright Patterson was well known among the bigwigs of the RDB. But that makes perfect sense since Wright Patterson was at the center of research and development for the Air Force. R&D was Wright Patt’s jam.

But let’s get back to R.J. Williams, coordinator of Project Artichoke. A couple weeks before he and Morse Allen had their tête-á-tête, a memo dated January 28, 1952, had been drafted by the OSI for the signature of Allen Dulles, who was deputy director of central intelligence at that time. The memo was written to the secretary of defense asking for help with Project Artichoke. The OSI was seeking the assistance of the RDB, and suggested one of its ongoing committees, the Committee on Medical Sciences, to tackle an overriding problem. The problem was defined as: “Whether or not, and to what extent, any agent or procedure can be used to cause an individual to become subservient to an imposed control; and subsequently that individual be unaware of the event.” They were especially interested in discovering the feasibility of such methods because it was rumored that the Soviets were already using such tactics in their interrogations.

I don’t know if the January 28 memo was ever sent. However, on March 7, another memo was drafted, this one asking the director of central intelligence (Walter Bedell Smith) to seek technical assistance directly from the chairman of the RDB (Walter G. Whitman) regarding the “problem.”

At a meeting on March 12, Whitman told a small group of individuals (whose names are all redacted) that the RDB “will be pleased to undertake the study as requested and feel that it is something they should be doing.” However, he also said that he’d rather not put his acceptance in writing “if this conference could be considered as confirming his acceptance of the responsibility.” Whitman also said that he’d rather not use his Medical Sciences committee for such a task, but would prefer to assign the problem to an ad hoc committee.

On March 25, Allen wrote his memo to R.J. offering up the names of St. Clair Switzer (for sure) and Griffith Wynne Williams (maybe). Of special note is this partial sentence: “…his two principal research assistants are still active in psychology and would prove particularly valuable as consultants on a research project on hypnotism.”

I’ve probably read that memo a thousand times, and for 999 of those times, I was thinking much more broadly about the “research project on hypnotism.” I thought he was speaking about Project Artichoke in general, like: “Hey, if you want an expert on hypnosis to consult at some point, here are a couple good prospects.” Now, based on the events leading up to this memo, I think that Allen was suggesting the names of St. Clair Switzer and Griffith Williams for the RDB’s study.

A month later—April 26, 1952—R.J. wrote a 9-page memo to his boss, the assistant director of Scientific Intelligence, bringing him up to speed on Artichoke. Under the subhead “New items uncovered,” he discussed the RDB study, which the OSI would be monitoring: 

“As an alternate measure to provide the best possible professional advice for the project, the Research and Development Board, at the request of the DCI, has undertaken a study of the technical feasibility of Artichoke-type techniques. Although the Study is designed ostensibly to provide CIA with a better basis for evaluating Soviet capabilities in this field, it can be useful in evaluating and guiding our own program. The committee members have been selected, and, subject to their availability and clearance, should be working on the subject in the near future.”

In May, the same memo was repurposed with the subject head “Special Interrogations,” and sent up the chain from the assistant director of OSI to Allen Dulles. Everyone was reassuring their bosses that things are being done in this area.

To be sure, there was a lot riding on the RDB’s shoulders. Until the technical feasibility study was completed, the CIA wouldn’t be able to do much else toward Project Artichoke.

On June 4, a memo was written by someone affiliated with the military. (The 1100 and 1200 hours were the giveaways.) They wanted to expedite the “setting up of the special committee to study Special Interrogation techniques.” Because the special committee wouldn’t be able to start meeting until August, they agreed to set up an “executive group” from the ad hoc committee as well as perhaps another group. (Unfortunately, the names are blacked out, though I’m certain the ad hoc committee is one of the groups.) “This group could do the spadework and actually represent an action group in being, pending the arrival of [the ad hoc committee] in August, the memo’s author wrote. 

Are you interested in knowing who served on the RDB ad hoc study group? Me too. Here you go.

Yeah…fun times. In August 2016, I submitted a FOIA request to the CIA asking them to lift the redactions on the list of names of their study group. (I mean…come on, right?) On April 10, 2019, their FOIA office wrote me back and said “Please be advised that we conducted a thorough and diligent search in an effort to locate a full-text version of the document but unfortunately were unsuccessful.”

In short: we have the blacked-out version, but we can’t find the version with the words on it.

Here’s what I wrote in my appeal:

“The classification and declassification of national security information is a highly regulated process, most currently outlined by Executive Order 13526. It is my understanding that MKULTRA documents that hadn’t been destroyed in 1973 underwent a declassification review and those documents were released digitally, in CD-ROM form, in 2004. It is also my understanding that the redactions are put in place during this declassification review. I find it inconceivable that a government employee charged with the critical responsibility of declassifying national security documents would be so sloppy and abusive in his or her handling of this information as to somehow misplace or destroy the original document, particularly given the CIA’s already embarrassing history with mishandling documents pertaining to MKULTRA. I also feel it necessary to remind you of the following statement, provided by Senator Edward Kennedy during the Joint Hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence on MKULTRA in August 1977:

The intelligence community of this Nation, which requires a shroud of secrecy in order to operate, has a very sacred trust from the American people. The CIA’s program of human experimentation of the fifties and sixties violated that trust. It was violated again on the day the bulk of the agency’s records were destroyed in 1973. It is violated each time a responsible official refuses to recollect the details of the program. The best safeguard against abuses in the future is a complete public accounting of the abuses of the past. [bold formatting added]”

Because we’re now nearing the two-year mark since they thanked me for my appeal and told me they’d get back to me, I gave them a call to see how things were going. (Of course I’m taking Covid into account, but two years is a long time, and I felt it was worth a check-in.) The person who answered took down my reference number, put me on hold for several minutes, and then returned to say, and I quote directly, “your case is still being worked on.” I’m pretty sure they’re waiting for me to die. 

The ad hoc committee met four times in 1952—August 15, October 1, November 11, and December 9. They released their report on January 15, 1953, one day after the memo was written on “Interrogation Techniques,” the one in which I believe that Switzer and Louis Jolyon West are mentioned in paragraph 3 in setting up a “well-balanced interrogation research center.” The ad hoc produced a typical “more research needed” report, signed off by the people who conduct the research, thus ensuring job security for all concerned. 

But there was another report produced by one of the RDB’s foot soldiers—on September 5, 1952—and one for which we only have a cover page, preface, and a table of contents. This report—referred to as the [BLANK] report—appears to have been passed around so much that they ran out of copies. It also had a bibliography, which the ad hoc committee report appears to lack. As the chief of the CIA’s technical branch wrote to the chief of their psychiatric division in May 1953: “We have just received this back after loaning it out sometime ago and since I promised to loan it to you, I am sending it with the understanding that, after you and your associates have finished reading it, you will return it to me since at the present time it is the only copy we have for our files.”

The report was produced with resources supplied by the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB), which was an elite group that reported to the National Security Council on topics pertaining to psychological operations. The same cast of characters in the upper echelons of the CIA and the Defense Department attended the PSB meetings along with the undersecretary of state. 

Here’s the report’s preface:

Here’s the TOC:

You guys? I think St. Clair Switzer wrote this report. Why do I think so?

  • Based on Allen’s letter to R.J., I believe that Switzer was invited to sit on the ad hoc committee. In addition, two members of the committee were asked to start the ball rolling early as part of the “executive group,” as mentioned in the June 4 military memo.
  • The person who produced the PSB report appears to be addressing the very question the RDB was asking, so it pertains to the ad hoc committee’s charge.
  • The preface reeks of Switzer, who had the habit of brown-nosing his superiors while acting too busy to be bothered by everyone else. (Adorable.) He also minored in English, so he fancied himself a writer. The line “It has been possible to cover these large areas solely because of the great amount of valuable assistance, cheerfully given” sounds so much like the smarmy letters he wrote to President Upham and others who could help him climb the ladder. I doubt the national security adviser, the secretary of defense, and the CIA director cared one iota about how cheerfully assistance was given.
  • In his TOC, he leads with hypnosis. He follows with drugs. Those were his two favorite topics.
  • The author refers to himself as a consultant, which is how Allen described Switzer’s possible role in his March 25 memo to R.J.
  • The name that’s blacked out looks to be of the same length as Switzer. 

Do I know why the report was produced by or for the PSB instead of the RDB? I don’t. But let’s look at it this way: the PSB was an interagency board that was above the RDB in rank, since it was established by President Truman. Also, one of the chief architects of the PSB was Sidney Souers, the first director of central intelligence, and a 1914 Miami graduate. Sidney was still an adviser to President Truman in 1952, and, though he didn’t sit on the PSB, it was his baby, so he kept close watch over it. Had he stepped in for some reason to assist? 

This much we know: St. Clair Switzer’s name was advanced at a time when the CIA was seeking technical assistance from the RDB. R.J., eager to show progress, could have called RDB chair Walter G. Whitman straight away, saying that he had a couple nominees for their ad hoc committee. Whitman would have shared those names with his board members, at least one of whom would be very familiar with Switzer’s credentials. 

Would Switzer have been eager to be involved? I have no doubt. Will I be asking the CIA to lift the redaction from the name at the bottom of the preface? Oh, you better believe it.

The floor is now open.


ADDENDUM: Supporting evidence that the author of the September 5, 1952, report was St. Clair Switzer

So sorry! That was rude of me to ask you to just trust me when I told you about how smarmy Switzer’s letters were to his superiors. I am now posting several letters that were either typed or handwritten by Doc Switzer to Alfred Upham, president of Miami University, or A.K. Morris, vice president of Miami. I include the letters in their entirety. If you have any questions about the who’s, where’s and why’s, feel free to ask. Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the smarm.

I’m including Switzer’s letters to V.P. Morris because they also show how high up in the military he was during WWII. He had an office at the Pentagon and was in charge of placing servicemen at the end of the war. I think he enjoyed bragging to Morris about how truly important he was, as if to say “You’ll get me when the Air Forces say you’ll get me.”

And now, with a huge thank you to astute reader and commenter Stevie J, I attach some additional typing that was performed by Doc Switzer on his Miami U typewriter in 1951, one year before he would have produced the 9-5-52 report for the RDB (if it was Switzer, of course). Switzer filled out this application for a post at the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) in Baltimore, for which he served from August to December 1951.

Among other anomalies, Stevie J has pointed out that, in the Preface of the report, “every lower case y is way left of center. Every single time.”

O.M.G.–the wayward ‘y’ that hugs its preceding letter. Do you see it? I’m freaking out. Freaking out on a Friday night. Pay special attention to the section at the bottom, under “Present Position,” especially the word Psychology.

What do you think? Is this the author of the 9-5-52 RDB report?

52 thoughts on “How did Doc Switzer get tangled up with the CIA? All roads lead to the RDB

  1. Backing up to Switzer’s choice of retirement location: seems like he probably just retired from university life, and was either assigned to March AFB or, by that age and time and his career, heard about some experiment he wanted to be a part of and volunteered to go out there. Sun City was just conveniently located (and made a good cover story to busybodies). Certainly DARPA would have been running, a lot of it on the west coast, and while it’s 99.9% tech/engineering/mechanical, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were trying to integrate psychological components somehow, or even “what’s the psychological effect of XYZ that we just came up with”.

    Also, I really wish someone had done a Freudian analysis of Switzer while he was alive, to his face, just for giggles, because he seems insufferable.

    1. Haha, coincidentally, I just finished a comment discussing his retirement location right before this comment came in. 😛 I definitely think he was up to something and wasn’t just drawn to the sun and the sand. (There was no sea.) And yes, I think he had….issues. As a younger man, he seemed a little friendlier, but, as he got older, I think he became quite a jerk and hardened to everyone around him—other than his friends in the military, perhaps.

      1. LOL, a touch of Napoleon syndrome, eh? And I saw your response about 15 minutes after I made this one…gosh darn replying in real time! 🙂

        PS, I feel like somewhere, there’s thousands of pages of James Bond-except-American and totally hypnotizing villains fanfic in a storage shed the CIA is hoping a meteor will hit.

  2. Wonderful stuff here. Is using LSD to increase susceptibility to hypnosis more effective against more intelligent people? I didn’t quite follow this one, but I think they were trying to figure out what part of a cat is most susceptible to behavioral modification by inflicting pain. I quit reading that one. Your tax dollars at work. Absolutely unbelievable.
    You could almost convince me that the CIA is bad as the conspiracy nuts say it is.

    I have already noticed that Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke seem to be quite intertwined.

    Maybe the homepage should have a direct link to Black Vault and some basic instructions on finding your way around. I’m sort of clicking here and there and don’t know what I’m doing. Apparently you want to left click on a .doc file, then right click and create a new tab for a .tif file, then click the tab to read it. Really cumbersome.

    1. That’s a great idea to post a link to The Black Vault on this homepage plus some helpful tips. I can also include links to some of the docs I found relevant/interesting to Dr. Switzer et al. Also, as everyone probably knows, I’m a fan of timelines. If I know what a person was saying or doing on one date, then I like to look at docs for the dates immediately following that date and preceding that date and all of the sudden, pieces start filling in and a story begins to take shape. That’s how I came to find the documents I’ve been presenting on this site. You feel like you’re looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, but if you focus on key dates and key words (eg, hypnosis, ad hoc, consultant, etc) it really helps.

    2. I’ve posted a section on the homepage titled “Searching the MKULTRA Collection.” It includes links to some of the potentially relevant documents I’ve found as well as tips on how to do a search using the resources on The Black Vault website. Hope this helps!

    1. Lol! Thanks! Heading out to plant geraniums on family graves right now— if anyone has additional comments today, it may take me a little longer to approve. Back in touch later.

  3. Basil Rathbone. It really would make for a good movie.

    How much other material do you have on CD?

    1. 😆 Good one!

      As for the CD collection, I got mine from the CIA for $10, but everything is posted on this site: Because the CDs are a hodgepodge of documents, one thing that was especially helpful was the index that includes titles, dates, document numbers, and # of pages. The index enabled me to shop around for what I thought would be pertinent. (The Black Vault has included it here: ALSO, I see that The Black Vault has created electronically searchable versions of the documents, which is SO awesome. I’m definitely going to pay another visit to these documents, and would welcome anyone else to as well.

      1. Within the past 2 decades, the owner of The Black Vault website (John Greenewald) has obtained over 2.4 million pages on numerous often “secret” topics from FOIA requests. Yet, after acquiring only about 1,600 pages on Ronald Tammen through FOIA, you were stymied from getting more documents about Ron by a legal settlement with the government and have recently discovered that this prohibition also applies to documents related to Richard Cox. This means that the government didn’t stop cooperating with your FOIA requests just because they’re tired of dealing with you, otherwise John Greenewald would have been cut off long ago. This implies, as you said recently, that Ron is “special” and that Richard Cox may be, too.

      2. Great point. It’s so interesting…I can tell when I’m getting too close to something important because the rules that applied under A, B, and C situations suddenly don’t apply under X, Y, and Z. They are showing me the line that I’m not allowed to cross and Ron Tammen and Richard Cox are standing just beyond that line. I also think that the DOJ’s attorney probably thought she was being clever by sneakily introducing the Cox documents into our Tammen settlement conversations. Judging by the speed at which she jumped at my Cox FOIA, she probably thought it was a perfect chance to solve two problems all at once. Btw, I have yet to hear back from the DOJ about my appeal, but I feel I have a strong case.

  4. Well, I was hoping for some confirmation on the typewriter, but okay, any information can be useful.

    What is the expected time frame on a Mandatory Classification Review?

    1. I think she didn’t want me to get my hopes up too much. She hadn’t seen the documents yet though, so we’ll see. Honestly, if there were no differences between the 2 typewriters, that would still be strong validation (imo), and she can at least rule out whether it’s the same typewriter. Also important to know. As for the MDR, ugh….it takes years. Don’t be discouraged. We’re going to get there. And PS. If the typewriter is the smoking gun, you’re going to need to decide who will play you in the movie.😄

  5. Have I mentioned easy and careful does it, but this might be it?

    How did you procure the Preface?

    1. I know–I’m cautiously freaking out. That Preface is part of the MKULTRA collection that the CIA sends out. None of it is electronically searchable. I literally went document by document and was pulling the ones that seemed as if they might pertain to the two hypnosis experts mentioned in the I&I memo. The documents I saved have been on my hard drive for a while. I went back through them when I decided to ask the CIA for an update about my FOIA request (the list of study group members). I wanted to see if it was even worth pestering them about. I’m now wondering if I need to review the original CD-ROMS to see if I’ve missed anything…

      1. I’m also really happy to have his application to the ARDC, which I obtained years ago by FOIAing his civilian military records. I mean…you have that stuff sitting in folders for years, and then one day, they come in super handy.

  6. Hi all: I’m currently looking into the possibility of having a forensic document examiner compare the typewriting of the two documents (budget permitting). From what I’m learning, it’s best to have originals as opposed to copies, but perhaps someone will be willing/able to provide some thoughts. As always, I’ll keep you posted.

      1. About how long would you expect it to take for an answer on who wrote the Preface?

      2. Not sure — I’m sending everything to the forensic document examiner today. I’m using one of the delivery services, so she’ll get it in the next day or so. Sight unseen, she did stipulate that, with poor copies, she wouldn’t be able to confirm that the two documents came from the same typewriter — only that there are no differences between them. However it’s possible for her to determine if they did NOT come from the same typewriter. So, that’s still very useful info.

  7. I’ll add that a lot of a’s and o’s are off center vertically. I think that might be attributed to the relative weakness of the pinkie and ring fingers. Just a guess, hoping an expert weighs in.

  8. Come ON, posse, I’m waiting for someone else to jump up and down in excitement about this. I can’t imagine different typewriters created the word “psy chology” that uniquely.

    This is really, really close to being the smoking gun.

  9. WSU, wow, that’s an exciting thought. The department secretary would be the obvious first choice, but a trusted research assistant would also be a possibility. Both of whom could maybe be about the same age as Ron.

  10. Regardless of who typed the material, both apparently came from Switzer. That’s the crucial issue.

    1. Agree…and I think it increases the chances that his name is on the 1-14-53 memo—the one where I think he and Jolly West are suggested for a well-balanced interrogation research center—exponentially.

    2. My only reason for caring about who actually typed it is the remote chance of someone still living that knows what happened to Ron. Not likely, I know, but I just wouldn’t expect a male professor to do all that typing himself…

      1. I’m still attempting to chip away at the question of who at Miami interviewed Carl Knox’s secretary relatively recently. Doing it under the radar though. But I’ll also look into whether a secretary in the psych dept during those years might still be alive.

  11. WSU, it’s a possibility he had someone type it, and that’s why I’d like to see material from other Psychology professors. But it’s hard to imagine him letting someone else read that Preface.

  12. Anyone who’s read all of the Sherlock Holmes canon as much as I have is going to be taking a close look at any typewritten material.

    ” “It is a curious thing,” remarked Holmes, “that a typewriter has really quite as much individuality as a man’s handwriting. Unless they are quite new, no two of them write exactly alike. Some letters get more worn than others, and some wear only on one side. Now, you remark in this note of yours, Mr. Windibank, that in every case there is some little slurring over of the ‘e,’ and a slight defect in the tail of the ‘r.’ There are fourteen other characteristics, but those are the more obvious.” “

  13. Wow, I agree, absolutely a Switzer letter! But… from what I’ve seen, 1950’s men, especially those in a high profile position, weren’t likely to know how, or care, to type. I looked at the bottom for any sign of initials of a typist, but didn’t see anything.

    Long shot, of course, but any chance he had an assistant who is still living? My guess is he wrote that but do you guys think he actually sat down and typed it?

    1. Oh, that’s an interesting thought. I do think Everett Patten, as the department chair, had a secretary, but I don’t know about Switzer. I can look it up in a directory. If she (always a she back then, right?) was young enough, she could still be alive. But my hunch is that he would have typed the report himself based on how hard they worked to maintain secrecy. (On that topic, I thought it was interesting that the RDB chair didn’t even want to answer Allen Dulles’s request in writing that he’d be willing to help.)

      1. I was on the Miami faculty pre-dating when PCs became common in faculty offices (almost all faculty had a PC in their office by about 1992). The department chair had a secretary and other faculty shared a secretary. About 10 faculty members per secretary was common. So, even pre-PC, many faculty members typed their own documents because it took too long to wait for a secretary to type them.

      2. Thanks for this perspective. I’ve been through the 1952-53 directory, and couldn’t find any secretaries dedicated to psychology, but I could have missed someone. I’ll look again. I do think Switzer typed his own stuff. His letters to people were frequently typed, beginning in the 1930s. Plus he was so secretive.

    1. Right you are! I think that’s why the word “psychology” stands out so much to my eyes–the ‘y’ is hugging the ‘s’ and the ‘c’ is hugging the ‘h’, so it creates a more noticeable gap.

  14. Well, didn’t sleep much, but okay. Maybe you could find an old school typewriter expert to review this material. I guess it’s possible it isn’t so unusual for different typewriters to have the same anomalies.

    I did notice the occasional lower case a being a hair higher than the other letters, although that might just be a pinkie finger artifact.

    I’m suggesting caution here, but really, this might be as close to a smoking gun as possibly exists. But easy and careful does it.

    1. Yep, for sure…I’ll be cautiously excited. And I’ll see if I can find an expert. But thank you again for spotting those anomalies. There I was, just trying to find consistency in the way he expressed himself, and I wasn’t concentrating on the typewriter!

      As I mentioned in the post, I’m also going to submit the preface for a Mandatory Declassification Review. The preface has absolutely nothing in it–just a bunch of thank-yous and apologies, etc., etc. In my view, there’s no reason for them to cover up his name other than the fact that they cover up everyone’s names.

  15. WHOA! I really need to get to sleep, but I’ll comment this much tonight. Yes, it was Switzer. His servile language screams out his authorship.

    The lower case y in “Maryland” and “psychology” and “University” reveal the typewriter. As does the capital R in “SWITZER”. More tomorrow. This is big.

  16. Hmmm. I can imagine Switzer having his personal typewriter for private/sensitive communications that he’d type out himself instead of dictating to a secretary. So, it might not hurt to find some correspondence from other psychology profs to see if their material matches up with Switzer’s non-sensitive material.

  17. Okay, been through it 3 times. I have no objections to your hypothesis, but there’s just not enough meat there to draw any firm conclusions.

    Do you know if Switzer had an office at Wright Patt? If not, then I’d LOVE to see a typewritten example of his work from his Miami typerwriter. 2 big clues would be the odd, strange, something, capital R’s. On the title page, it’s like a Siamese twin with the Capital T. And every lower case y is way left of center. Every single time. Okay, back at it some more.

    1. I’ve posted some of his letters–mostly typewritten, but one handwritten. I do believe you’re onto something with those wayward y’s! Take a look above the comments section. 🤯

  18. Okay, in the library now, reading it all again. I am 100% certain if I had a few of Switzer’s writings, I could tell if he wrote the Preface to the 9-5-52 report. This remark of yours jumps out at me:

    // He also minored in English, so he fancied himself a writer. //

    Can we be real here? Just me and you, Jen. I am quite certain I’ve never encountered a better observer of good writing than I am. And I’m also a good observer of the kind of person who thinks they’re a good writer, and isn’t. This prose is beyond terrible. But as you can tell, and I can tell, the writer clearly fancies himself an undiscovered Shakespeare. The repeated sentence structures of ___________ is __________ in the first paragraph is an immediate and dead giveaway. Awful. Dreadful.

    Then we get to the rest of the Preface, where they thank everyone except their hairdresser’s second cousin for their help. Painful. And I guarantee if Switzer wrote like that here, he wrote like that everywhere.

    Okay, going to look at some more of your post.

  19. I have many thoughts, but this one is too deep to apprehend in one reading. One observation: “Volunteers” are a lot more deniable/hideable than “paid employees”. Thinking about it some more. Be back soon.

    1. Right…good point about volunteers. Interested to hear if you agree with my assertion that Switzer wrote the 9-5-52 report. I would so love it if they actually referred to it as “the Switzer Report” but that’s probably too much to hope for. Maybe I should post some of his other letters so people can see what I mean about how obsequious he was.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.