Aliens at UNH - Licensing the Betty and Barney Hill Collection

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Chris Harris

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) is home to many unique and unexpected things that the institution has collected over its 150-year history. However, there are probably none quite as unexpected as the university’s collection of authentic UFO-related artifacts from Betty and Barney Hill, the now famous couple who made the first widely-reported UFO abduction report in the United States. This past July, UNHInnovation licensed various pieces from the Betty and Barney Hill collection to be reproduced and displayed on the TBS television show People of Earth.

Betty and Barney Hill were New Hampshire residents and lived near the seacoast in Portsmouth. Late at night on Sept. 19, 1961, the couple was returning from a trip to Montreal and driving through New Hampshire’s White Mountains when they claimed to have seen lights approaching them in the sky. Through binoculars, Barney claims to have spotted non-human figures in a cigar-shaped craft that hovered over their car. The next thing they can recall is being 35 miles farther in their journey home. Two hours of their journey were wiped from their memories. Betty’s dress was stained and torn and Barney’s shoes were badly scuffed, but neither had any recollection of how these and other physical changes happened to their car and belongings. 

After seeking hypnosis therapy, the couple were able to recall similar details of an alien abduction. Because of her experience, Betty became one of the most well-known voices in UFO research and the publicity she received made her internationally famous as the couple’s story captured the world’s imagination. UNH received the collection after Betty’s death in 2004 (Barney passed away suddenly in 1969). Now housed at the Dimond Library, it contains artifacts related to their abduction and subsequent research, such as correspondence, personal journals and essays, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, photographs, slides, films, and audio tapes relating to UFOs. The collection also includes the dress Betty was wearing on the night of the abduction and a ceramic bust of an alien, dubbed “Junior,” which was sculpted to resemble Betty’s description of the alien leader.

The show People of Earth is a comedy about a support group for alien abductees. The show’s production company licensed the rights to recreate and display artifacts in the Betty and Barney Hill collection from UNH, which appeared in the show’s second season. The company used digital scans provided by UNH Special Collections to recreate a Betty and Barney Hill exhibit, complete with their own version of Junior. The show’s characters visited the exhibit while at an alien expo. The episode, titled “Alien Experiencer Expo,” originally aired on September 11, 2017.

This is not the first time that UNH-owned intellectual property has made it to Hollywood. In 2014, an image of the Mariana Trench created by scientists from the UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center was licensed by Warner Bros. and can been seen in the movie Godzilla.

If you have any questions about the Betty and Barney Hill collection, you can visit or contact Dr. Bill Ross, Special Collections Librarian at

Chris Harris,
Licensing Manager, Creative Works