Morris Ketchum Jessup (March 2, 1900 – April 29, 1959), though employed for most of his life as an auto-parts salesman and photographer, is probably best remembered for his pioneering ufological writings and his role in uncovering the so-called Philadelphia Experiment.
Jessup has been referred to in ufological circles as "probably the most original extraterrestrial hypothesiser of the 1950s", and that he was "educated in astronomy and archeology and had working experience in both. Actual evidence of an educational background in archaeology, or archaeological field work, is absent from Jessup's resume, but Jerome Clark reports that Jessup took part in archeological expeditions to the Yucatan and Peru in the 1920s.
Jessup achieved some notoriety with his 1955 book, The Case for the UFO, where he argued that unidentified flying objects represented a mysterious subject worthy of further study. Jessup speculated that UFOs were "exploratory craft of 'solid' and 'nebulous' character. Jessup also "linked ancient monuments with prehistoric superscience, years before similar claims were made by Erich von Däniken in Chariots of the Gods?.
Jessup wrote three further saucer books, UFOs and the Bible, The UFO Annual (both 1956) and The Expanding Case for the UFO (1957). The latter suggested that transient lunar phenomenon were somehow related to UFOs in earth's skies. Jessup's main saucer scenario came to resemble that of the Shaver Hoax perpetrated by science-fiction magazine editor Ray Palmer --- namely, that "good" and "bad" groups of space aliens were meddling with terrestrial affairs. Like most of the writers on flying saucers, and the so-called contactees, that emerged during the 1950s, Jessup displayed familiarity with the alternative mythology of human prehistory developed by Helena P. Blavatsky's cult of Theosophy, which included the mythical lost continents of Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria.
On January 13, 1955, Jessup received a letter from a man identifying himself as Carlos Miguel Allende. In the letter, Allende informed Jessup of the Philadelphia Experiment, alluding to poorly sourced contemporary newspaper articles as proof. Allende also said that he had personally witnessed a ship named the USS Eldridge disappear and reappear while serving aboard a merchant marine ship in its vicinity, SS Andrew Furuseth. He further named other crew with which he served aboard Andrew Furuseth, and claimed to know of the fates of some of the crew members of Eldridge after the experiment, including one whom he witnessed disappear during a chaotic fight in a bar. Jessup replied to Allende by postcard, asking for further evidence and corroboration for the story, such as dates and specific details of his fantastic story. The reply came months later; however, this time the correspondent identified himself as Carl M. Allen. Allen said that he could not provide the details for which Jessup was asking, but implied that he might be able to recall by means of hypnosis. Jessup decided to discontinue the correspondence.
However, in the spring of 1957, Jessup was contacted by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Washington, D.C. and was asked to study the contents of a parcel that they had received. Upon arrival, a curious Jessup was astonished to find that a paperback copy of his book had been mailed to ONR in a manila envelope marked "HAPPY EASTER". Further, the book had been extensively annotated by hand in its margins, and an ONR officer asked Jessup if he had any idea as to who had done so.
The lengthy annotations were written in three different colors of ink, and appeared to detail a correspondence between three individuals, only one of which is given a name: "Jemi". The ONR labeled the other two "Mr. A" and "Mr. B". The annotators refer to each other as Gypsies, and discuss two different types of "people" living in space. Their text contained nonstandard use of capitalization and punctuation, and detailed a lengthy discussion of the merits of various suppositions that Jessup makes throughout his book, with oblique references to the Philadelphia Experiment, in a way that suggested prior or superior knowledge. (For example, "Mr. B" reassures his fellow annotators, who have highlighted a certain theory of Jessup's, "HE HAS NO KNOWLEDGE, HE COULD NOT HAVE. ONLY GUESSING.[sic]").
Based on the handwriting style and subject matter, and in comparison to the earlier letters he had received, Jessup identified "Mr. A" as Carlos Allende/Carl Allen. Others have suggested that the three annotations are actually from the same person, using three pens. Later, the ONR contacted Jessup, claiming that the return address on Allende's letter to Jessup was an abandoned farmhouse. They also informed Jessup that the Varo Corporation, a research firm, was preparing a print copy of the annotated version of The Case for the UFO, complete with both letters he had received. Numbers vary, but it appears that around one hundred copies of the Varo Edition were printed and distributed within the Navy. Jessup was also sent three for his own use.