Half a century ago, L. Ron Hubbard produced some of his earliest writings on Dianetics in Wichita.
Now the Church of Scientology, which Hubbard founded, is seeking those papers. Church officials, who are offering a $5,000 reward, hope they might be tucked away in a Wichita attic or basement.
Philip McComish, manager and partner of Watermark West-Rare Books, said he wasn't surprised to see an ad in Monday's Wichita Eagle asking about the papers.
"When I first opened the rare books shop in the 1980s, I'd get a call about once a month wanting to know if I had any Scientology letters or documents," he said.
McComish said he has never come across any.
"I think these documents are probably gone," he said. "They were probably piles of 8 ½-by-11-inch papers sitting in boxes in someone's attic. The house changed hands a couple of times and the boxes got landfilled."
Church of Scientology officials were unavailable Monday for comment. Hubbard died in 1986.
The ad in Monday's paper said that Hubbard, the author of "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health," lived at 910 N. Yale in 1951 and 1952.
While in Wichita, he gave more than 140 lectures at the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation and wrote several books on Dianetics.
A search on Hubbard through the Eagle's archives indicate the Dianetics Foundation was located at 211 W. Douglas, now the northwest corner of the Century II property. The Hubbard College was on Broadway. While in Wichita, Hubbard trained people from across the nation on the subject of Dianetics.
In one speech Hubbard gave Feb. 6, 1952, at the Arcadia Theatre -- now on file at Wichita State University's special collections -- he told the audience:
"I wish to announce tonight what may be the successful accomplishment of the knowledge and skills necessary to alter the basic nature of man."
In the speech, Hubbard said, "Dianetics is the field of knowledge which pertains to the treatment of the human mind."
An Eagle story in March 1995 indicated that by 1952, Hubbard was seeking to leave Wichita. His second marriage had ended in divorce, and his company had gone bankrupt.
When he left in March 1952, Hubbard left instructions with his housekeeper to ship his personal papers and manuscripts to Phoenix. For some reason, those items never arrived.
Because of the popularity of his books on Dianetics, the Church of Scientology was soon born.