About the Providence Bureau and "Strange Far Places"

The podcast "Strange Far Places" began as a project of the Providence Bureau to gather folklore and investigate unsolved disappearances and paranormal encounters at Glastenbury Mountain in Southern Vermont.

However, over the course of the investigation, it was discovered that the Providence Bureau itself was involved in many of those mysteries.

About The Providence Bureau

The Providence Bureau is an 80-year-old institution with "a mission to document, investigate, and archive purported paranormal observances across New England."

Today it maintains the largest repository of files and documentary evidence related to New England-based paranormal, occult, and anomalous events.

The Bureau with its research library, archives, and laboratory is based in Providence, Rhode Island near the campus of Brown University. As of 2012, it had six active departments :

  1. Department of Field Research, Oral History and Folklore
  2. Department of Anomalous Geography and Vortex Landforms
  3. Department of Mirror Geometry and Applied Equations
  4. Borges Department of Multi-World Inquiry
  5. Department of Forensic Sciences and Investigations
  6. Howard Department of Publishing and Outreach

Founding of the Providence Bureau

The Providence Bureau was founded by friends and enthusiasts of H.P. Lovecraft shortly after his death in 1937. Its formation was inspired by a dossier and research diary Lovecraft kept right up to his death.

Both the dossier and diary were concerned with real-world encounters with the "weird and otherworldly" in New England:

The dossier included newspaper clippings, interviews with locals, scientific reports, an unpublished scientific paper on "strange geometry," and a small collection of files somehow sourced from the United States Bureau of Investigation (precursor to the FBI).

The diary included Lovecraft's thoughts and analysis of the materials in the dossier. Neither diary nor dossier have been fully released to the public; both are held in the Special Collections archive of the Providence Bureau library.

In these materials, the founders of the Bureau perceived the beginning of a scientific approach to exploring paranormal phenomena. The Providence Bureau was founded with the goal of expanding those efforts in three ways:

- Create a network of "listening stations" to flag, collect, classify, and archive accounts of encounters with the unknown as they appeared in the press and in police reports.

- Train, equip, and deploy teams of Field Researchers to gather evidence, record witness accounts, and collect local folklore related to paranormal events.

- Fund a scientific think tank to explore and theorize how these events might occur.

The Bureau built its operation slowly through World War II. But after the War, it received a large endowment and rapidly expanded its field operations. It also purchased a modern headquarters with climate controlled archival storage, laboratory, and research library.

While the Providence Bureau's founding mandate was to study anomalous phenomena in New England, it did occasionally work on cases across the United States and Canada.

Through the first decades of its founding, the Bureau worked discreetly, without any publicity or media outreach. Government officials and law enforcement occasionally called upon Bureau expertise and resources to help with solve cases. But it worked outside the academic and legal mainstream and didn't publish research papers, case files, or operational updates.

Over time, the Providence Bureau archives grew to include hundreds of thousands of documents and artifacts including maps, newspapers, journals, books, news clippings, scholarly journals and law enforcement records, as well as audio-visual sources including photographs, film reels, audio recordings, videos and more.

The Bureau thrived into the1970's. But in 1977, it started to invest heavily in a media branch focused on producing books, radio documentaries, and films. But without explanation its first book "A Field Guide to North American Anomalous Geography" was pulled immediately after publication. Rare copies are highly valued today.

After this period, the Bureau entered a decline. Most of its staff, researchers, and investigators were laid off in the early 1980's. By the late 80's it was practically defunct. It barely operated during the 1990's and early 2000's.

The Providence Bureau Reborn

However, in 2012, the Bureau suddenly began recruiting a new wave of Field Researchers. It was unclear who was running the Bureau or what was driving this new push.

The Providence Bureau had become as mysterious as the cases it once investigated.
"Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places."
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