In a small Indiana town, a boy, Will Byers, vanishes. The search for Will pulls together his friends and family and the town sheriff. They find themselves up against a secret corporation, sinister government scientists, and a girl with other-worldly powers. This is Stranger Things, Netflix’s newest original series.
Rooted in nostalgia for the 1980s, Stranger Things also finds kinship with government conspiracies and a truth that may be hard to believe. (Very minor spoilers ahead.) Our series heroes find themselves up against a government scientist, who was principle investigator in Project MKULTRA before working at Hawkins National Laboratory (the secret corporation). This is where fiction fades into reality. Launched in 1953, during the early stages of Cold War, Project MKULTRA was a CIA-led investigation into mind control. The intelligence agency concern was on the ability to manipulate and extract information from subjects through the use of drug and physical influences. The CIA wanted control and tap into the minds of Soviet agents and were worried about the Russians doing the same. Over the course of MKULTRA, the CIA gave LSD to college students without consent, attempted to hypnosis subjects, and experimented with electro-shock therapy. Ultimately, Project MKULTRA provided no conclusive medical advancement and continues to be a black mark for the US government.
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a federal law “establishing the right of access to government information and agency records as essential to a free and open society,” the wrong doings of the government agency were made public. In 2001, all remaining MKULTRA records were made public. These can be freely accessed through archive.org.
What are the stranger things you can find at the Prairie State Library?