Archive for Live Free USA News

A Letter To Members from the President of Live Free USA

From the President of Live Free USA

I have been the president of this organization for about 45 of its 51 years of existence. In the early years we didn’t have a set of bylaws or any official titles for officers. Although we are having our “51st Annual Meeting” this March there were many years when there were so few of us that we had no official Annual Meeting at all.  Membership has ranged from as few as 12 to over 800 in the Cold War 1980's. At one point we had chapters from coast-to-coast and members in England, Australia, Canada and a few other countries. Our lowest point was in the early 1990’s when there was little public interest in emergency preparedness.  After the events of 9/11 we found ourselves playing catch up in the growing number of survival/preparedness organizations.  We had only a few of our hard-core members and practically no funds while for profit and well-sponsored groups outpaced our programs.  We couldn’t get anyone to do a website until 2006!  As a result, the organization that invented and defined true survivalism in the 1960’s is not as well known or appreciated today as it should be.

Not having sponsors, funds or professional support has resulted in many missed opportunities. Throughout most of my tenure I have had a full-time job, family obligations and many personal challenges.  Being that I was doing most of the clerical work, Live Free’s growth depended on my available time. For example: in the early 1980’s Live Free was featured on television, radio and press coast-to-coast, resulting in hundreds of opportunities and letters coming in each month.  In those years my wife and I were coping with a family member with cancer and another with dementia while we both worked full-time jobs and maintained a historic landmark building.  There was no way to keep up and I eventually had to throw out boxes of unopened latter’s that had sat for years.  That cycle has often been a problem:  we get some publicity and do some events and membership shoots up, but then I get overloaded and can’t do membership support publications, and events and membership goes back down.  In the last few years we have had a bit more help, but the problem is not completely resolved.

I am often asked why we named the organization “Live Free” and not something with “preparedness” or “survival” in the name.  The answer is that “survivalism”, “survivalist”, and “prepper” were not even in the dictionary when we started doing survival and preparedness stuff.  The precursor to Live Free was The Ticonderoga Gun Club that morphed into an outdoor sports group that evolved into outdoor survival and then general survival as Live Free USA*.  Our newsletter started in the 1970s as “Directions” but has always been focused on survival related material.  We changed the name of our publication and website to facilitate website searches and more accurately reflect our focus activities, but we have long been incorporated as Live Free USA.  While we have adapted and modified to survive, we are the pioneer survival/preparedness organization with the longest published survival/preparedness publication in America.

So here we are in 2019. We have a solid reputation, a great history, a loyal core membership, and as much funds as we have ever had.  While I am relatively healthy I cannot do more than I am doing now and probably will be a bit less able in the years to come, so I am stepping aside at the next Annual Meeting on March 30ththThe good news is that it appears that we will have a full slate of capable and dedicated new officers taking over. This new group is a healthy mix of new younger members, experienced veteran members and long-time founding members. This strong team should be able to establish new visions, goals and programs while dividing up the tasks and responsibilities previously handled by a few or just left undone.  I intend to continue my service as a “Director” doing the newsletter and other tasks as requested by the Board of Directors. It will take some time to shift some of the critical tasks and information to the new officer and establish a less person-centered organization. Personally, my biggest hope is to leave a sustainable and effective, non-profit, national preparedness organization to support individual self-reliance and family preparedness for generations to come. I regard life and freedom as two inseparable values that are both in great jeopardy in this century and only a prepared, and self-reliant population can truly be safe and free.

It has been my honor to serve our members for these past decades. I cannot express enough gratitude to all of our founding and core group (you know who you are) members who have supported my efforts and so many ways through good-times and hard-times. I pledge my continued support and best efforts in my new role.

For life and Freedom

James C. Jones

* The words “Live and “Free” are two of the most ubiquitous and interpretable (or misinterpretable) words in the English language.  While inspiring terms as in “Live Free or Die” the name became a problem when the internet and search engines developed.  Issues not anticipated in the 1970's

January/February 2019 Issue Is Available to Members

The latest issue of American Survivor for January and February of 2019 has just been added to the Members Only / American Survivor page.  If you are an on-line member you can download that PDF and over 65 back issues as well

American Survivor 2007-2018 Directory Available



Live Free USA started publishing a survival and self-reliance newsletter in the early 1970’s.  The original mimeographed issues and the later off-set printed issues remain in binders, but most of the more recent digitally produced issues are converted to PDF files and are available to on-line members on the “Members Only/American Survivor” section of our website. The newsletter was originally titled “Directions” and then “New Directions” finally to be “American Survivor” in 2007.  Over the years there have been significant format changes and four different editors and creators.  In the 1980’s we published a 16-page issue every month, as support dwindled in the late 1990’s we got out  only few issues each year.  After the events of 9/11 we settled on six issues/per year off 10-pages.  We added two more pages a few years ago.  While the cost postage and printing have increased we have kept the membership/subscription rate to a mere $20.00 annually*. This list only includes the digital issues, so there are a few hundred issues containing at least five hundred well written and illustrated articles that would need to be scanned or converted (any volunteers?)** in order to save them for the future. Since we have no office or archives all of this will be lost eventually. I have some issues of age that may prevent my doing more than one or two more years at this job.  If we do not get a new editor and some more supporters American Survivor and Live Free USA may only survive in hyperspace. I have listed only the major articles in each issue, not the Live Free news items, product reviews or book reviews unless the review contained how-to information.  While I wrote many of the articles myself there are many great contributing writers that we are and have been fortunate to have.

Much of the material in my articles was rewritten and included in my three books available from Skyhorse Publishing of New York, they are “Advanced Survival”, “The Book of Total Survival”, and “150 Secrets of Survival” from various authors the early days of Live Free.  Many of these are illustrated.

Other Publications

   In addition to all of the listed issues on the website, there are two books available to members in the members only/publications page.  Choices for Survival is a primarily devoted to the philosophical and psychological aspects of survival and freedom. Publishers were not interested in this a few years ago because they preferred “how-to” material. The Best of American Survivor is a compilation of great articles from issues prior to 2008.  There is also a collection of scanned “Survivalist Papers” dating back to the late 1970’s.  There is a treasure trove of information and ideas there.

The List is ten pages long so please open the attached PDF.


*Only members who join on-line via our website can access the back issues and other publications

** Anyone interested in scanning and/or republishing these issues, please contact me at

Keep Live Free USA Alive

Ordinarily we would have three open offices to fill each year, but with the President’s resignation effective on January 1st 2019 and the Vice President having resigned last month we face the 2019 Annual Meeting in March with five open offices. Failure to fill these offices with active, motivated candidates will leave the organization virtually leaderless and inactive.  Members old and new need to step forward in advance and get involved.  If we go into that meeting without predetermined and pre-committed candidates there will probably be no Live Free USA by the end of that year.  You can start networking with the existing officers and we offer a 200-word space in our newsletter and website postings for potential candidates to announce their candidacy and state their qualifications, visions and goals for the organization.  The five open offices to be filled in 2019 are:

  • President: To fill the remaining term of the resigning officer from 2019 until March 2020 when an election for a full three-year term will be held *
  • Vice President: To fill the remaining two year term from 2019 until 2021
  • Membership Secretary: Term from 2019 till 2022
  • Director #1: Term from 2019 till 2022
  • Director #2: Term from 2019 till 2022

*The current President has expressed interest in becoming a Director

Paladin Press Interviews James C. Jones

Paladin Press’s Interview with James C. Jones


My latest book titled “The Live Free Book of Total Survival” is due to come out from Paladin Press this winter.  The publishers are making it the featured book for their next on-line and printed catalogue and wanted to include an interview with me as part of the promotion.  The publisher’s questions turned out to be very provocative and provided an opportunity to share some opinions and historic perspective with the readers.  Paladin had to edit the answers a bit to fit their space.  I have include the entire unedited interview questions and answers along with two additional commentaries that I hope you all will find informative.

  1. How long have you been involved in the self-reliance movement? How did you get involved?

   I had a challenging childhood that forced me to be self-reliant and independent at a very early age.  I don’t remember not having some kind of survival pack. Living poor on the Southside of Chicago gave me my urban survival training and my outdoor activities that included, rock-climbing, caving, rafting and primitive camping provided the rest. Survival/self-reliance as a movement started in the background of the social and political upheavals of the 1960.  I helped organize Live Free USA in the late 1960s.  The organization evolved from an outdoor survival club to a general survival and preparedness education group. That is now a tax-deductible, not-for-profit corporation. Their website is at

  1. In that time, have the essential principles changed, or simply their applications?

  Certainly the principles of personal and family self-reliance and independence have not changed, but the acceptance of the need for preparedness and sustainable self-reliance has change dramatically.

  In the 1960s through the 1980s the general public felt that they lived in a fairly secure world threatened by one singe danger (nuclear war) that might or might not happen. This made various form of denial the prevalent mindset.  Survivalists were regarded as paranoid or even dangerous.  I did a lot of TV, radio and print interviews trying to explain that we were just responsible citizens that made everyone safer. The movement as such was a small outlying subculture at that time.

  In the later 1990s the threat matrix of economic decline, political instability, depletion of resources, terrorism, epidemics, civil disorder, unemployment, shortages, natural disasters, effectively destroyed the public’s sense of safety and confidence.  These were disasters that were happening to them or their neighbors now.  Denial became much harder to sustain and preparedness and self-reliance offered real advantages and benefits.  This is why the movement is growing, evolving and becoming a mainstream force for the future.

  1. What is the biggest obstacle to people adopting a more self-reliant lifestyle?

   I get that question often when I do presentation for community groups and preparedness expositions.  The biggest obstacle is just getting started and letting go of dependency and vulnerability. People are often overwhelmed by needing so much knowledge and supplies.  I tell them to go home and fill some clean containers with water, buy some candles and start designating canned-goods for emergency use only.  It’s a start.  Set a budget and a list of preparedness improvement goals. Do something. Do it now. Keep getting better.  Of course I have handouts and references to help them

  1. How do you organize all the essential knowledge a person needs to be self-reliant and survive emergencies in 10 principles—or, actually, 11 principles?

 The ten principles are distilled from a variety of sources, observations and experiences.  They could be expanded or compressed, but ten is a manageable number to organize and communicate the mental and philosophical foundations of a survivor in times of crisis as well as daily life. Of course that eleventh principle “Never Give Up” is often the most important.  

  1.         What is the first step that you would advise a person to take in the quest for emergency preparedness?

If you are reading this and hopefully reading my book, you have already taken the most important step.  You have left denial and started to take control and responsibility for your own future in a hazardous world.  One of my personal mantras is “happen to things before they happen to you”   Of course things will happen to you, but if you are happening and proactive and mission oriented, these happenings will not stop you.

  1. How important is the mental component of survival?

The mental attitude is pretty much the whole game in survival.  I do a lot of studying of past disasters and human behavior.  Often the only reason some people died was there inability to move from denial through deliberation and on to decision and action.  They often had the knowledge and means to survive, but not the spirit and will to act. People who have experienced disaster or hard times have been shocked into being natural survivors.  Others usually need training and determination.  This is why I developed the ten principles program.

  1. In the early days of the survivalist movement, Americans feared the doomsday scenario of the Russians bombing us. What is the biggest fear of most Americans today?

 I think I answered most of this in question number-two, but the real issue is that this combination of developing and potential threats are all connected so that only one or two of them happening will trigger many of the others.  For example: a cyber-attack or EMP would start an economic collapse that would generate civil disorder that would shut down the grid and create epidemics.  Any one leads to the others. No matter what you are concerned most about, you need to prepare for them all and maybe even all together.

  1. How has your experience as an EMT and Industrial Safety Manager informed your survival practices?

 I started working at a rather large chemical plant back in the 60s.  I guess my survival thinking led me to making safety improvements.  This lead to a lot of certifications, promotions and awards.  I did a lot of hazard analysis, incident investigation, emergency planning and accident prevention work.  I was able to apply survival ideas to industrial safety and industrial safety science techniques to survival.  This gave me a unique approach to both.  Some of my ten principles and many of my articles were inspired by my safety management experiences and observations.  I also became an EMT, Certified Hazard Control Manager and HAZMAT Technician. All that added to my background.

  1. Are preppers different than survivalists?

   We were doing what we do before the term “survivalist” became popular, then in the 90s it was “preppers”.  I like the term “self-reliance practitioner”, but it’s not as catchy.  My problem with “prepping” is that it is defensive.  You are prepping for a particular thing or things to survive and recover.  Not good enough.  Survivalists live the philosophy and think differently.  We apply survival principles to everyday life and assume that the expected disasters and the unexpected disasters will happen and that we will deal with them and retain our values and freedoms. Survival is more than just staying alive.

  1. A lot of what you include in this book seems like smart advice for ordinary, day-to-day life and not just for crises. Do you see a strong connection between those who have successful lives and those who survive extraordinary challenges?

I find it amazing that most people and families muddle along, without defined missions and goals.  I am a big advocate of a mission centered life.  How do we know what success will look like if we never established the objective.  Your survival and preparedness program should be built on the idea of perusing your mission and reaching your goals in-spite of the challenges and disasters that you may encounter.  Don’t just survive it. Own it.  I came to realize that the application of my ten principles had actually work for me and others even though they were not defined at the time.  Yes, these are sound principles to live by on a day-to-day basis.  Those I know who have had a lot of trouble and “bad luck” inevitably violated one or more of the principles.

Added Qs and As 

  The following questions were not included in the interview, but add my personal views of our future.

  1. How do you see the future of the preparedness, survival and sustainable living movement in the coming decades?

   This is now a mainstream movement and will be a major factor in how Americans survive, adapt and endure thorough the challenges and disasters that they will face.  The younger generation must embrace self-reliance, responsibility and independence or be dragged into a very dark future

  1. What are you hopes for Live Free USA in the years ahead?

  I devoted a significant part of my life into building the organization and its relevance and future importance is just now becoming imperative.  I can only hope that others will step forward and take it to the next level.  The movement needs a not-for-profit, advocacy and support organization to unite and network the various groups and elements in our common cause. Certainly the enemies of self-reliance and personal independence are well organized, united and well financed.  We need to be also.



Two Live Free Chapters in Tennessee

Two Live Free Chapters in Tennessee
We are happy to welcome the “Tennessee Scouts” Live Free USA chapter to our family. This chapter is located in Silver Point TN east of Nashville. They are planning on doing regular meetings and camp events in the near future. They join the established “Middle Tennessee” chapter near Nashville as Live Free’s presence grows throughout the state. We invite members in Tennessee to contact the Tennessee Scouts at: and the Middle Tennessee Chapter at

Northwest Chicago Group Revival!

The leader of the Northwest Chicago Area Live Free Chapter moved away a while back and no-one stepped up to replace him.  As a result the group has been inactive (but not forgotten) for many months.  We now have a few folks restarting things in that area and we look forward to a resumption of the great meetings and classes that were previously held.  Live Free has considerable resources to boost this effort.  If you would like to be included in the new Northwest Chicago Live Free programs and help get it going contact: or call: 815-814-0336



Many of you who visit our site are not yet members.  While we do post many survival and self-reliance articles here, most of our best information is reserved for publication in the members only sections. In addition to the Survival Papers and many other items, our member get a PDF downloadable issue of American Survivor bimonthly.  This is America's oldest continuously published survival newsletter.  Each issue is loaded with survival information you will not see anywhere else.  In addition members joining on-line through PayPal can download scores of back issues at no additional cost. Enjoy and join.

Just click on the link below to get a PDF sample copy of American Survivor


The Political Effects of Self-Reliance


By James C. Jones, President of Live Free USA

I am often asked why Live Free is not involved more in political activities. After all, “Live Fee” implies a political imperative and philosophy far more than a name with Prepper or Survival in it. My first answer is that there are plenty of great conservative political organizations out there fighting for gun rights and other issues and we often find ourselves working with such organizations to help their members achieve greater functional independence. Our activities are often mutually beneficial and supportive. Live Free’s mission is to advocate, promote, educate and support individual and family preparedness and self-reliance. That is an important and unique mission. Getting involved in political action would simply drift us off message and off mission. Paradoxically, my second answer is that Live Free.s mission is more politically effective than any voting,


I have gotten a lot of favorable comments on this article published in American Survivor so I have added the full article to the "Articles" section of the website.


Thoughts from Alaska

I finally got around to seeing Alaska. Simply put: you should not leave this life without seeing this beautiful l and unique place. My limited time and budget allowed me to visit only a few locations, but I would like to share my observations with you. My visit was in late July and covered the south coastal area near Anchorage, the Denali National Park and the interior around Fairbanks. I experienced the cold in the glacial fiords, and the rather mild temperatures of the interior. I was fortunate to talk to members of indigenous tribes, long-time residents and transient residents as well. Anchorage is a pretty typical small city with a skyline and plenty of urban refinements. Fairbanks is a rougher sort of modern frontier town. Remember that they are over 300-miles apart with no other populated areas or road networks for a thousand miles. This is a unique environment! I will not dwell on the glaciers, mountains, boat trips and rail road’s trains. Instead, I will focus on the items that may be of interest to all of you self-reliance and survival types out there.
Less heat means less atmospheric energy and this results in less wind. Thunderstorms, tornadoes and high winds are far less frequent in a perpetually cool environment so wind power is not effective. Solar panels are common. Because of the low angle of the sun, they are set almost vertically. The extra-long summer days provide direct solar energy throughout at least 6-months. Propane seems to be the preferred fuel source in winter, supplemented with wood.
The Japanese current in the ocean modifies the climate in the Anchorage area so that it’s rather chilly in summer (like Seattle) but milder than the interior in winter. In fact, it’s only about 10 degrees colder than Chicago (on average) with fewer days of snow. However, in the fiords of Prince William Sound they are cold all the time and get 70-feet (yes feet) of snow. Everyone in Whittier lives in one building and the kids use a tunnel to get to school.
While the summer is short, the long days accelerate growing so that huge vegetables and grain crops provide most of Alaska’s needs in a few months. Most families get about 80% of their protean from fishing and hunting. Virtually everyone fishes and hunts. Refrigeration is no problem with a six month winter and permafrost just a few feet below. While down in the lower 48-states we recommend that people stock up to be isolated for 4-6 months this is normal procedure for many Alaskans
Out in the suburbs and rural areas water supplies are an issue. If you have a stream it freezes in winter and you need to use an axe and stove to get water. Wells and piped water are going to freeze. If you have a dry cabin (with no stream) you go into town with a tank in the back of your pickup truck and buy water for home use. I observed many trucks with 200 gallon tote-tanks on the roads.
The Athabaskan Indians are the largest tribe in the interior. They retain many of their traditions, but have adopted plenty of modern conveniences as well. Spread out over millions of square miles of tundra and wilderness it is challenging for them to get an education. The children come to the towns in summer and homeschool in winter. I found them to be intelligent and friendly people. As I suspected (and teach) these folks survive the extreme cold by eating calories and staying insulated, not by building big fires. Clothing and food are their primary survival methods, with fire as a temporary and auxiliary method. There is plenty of fur available to the natives, but otter fur is the most effective. There is more fur on one-inch of otter pelt than on an entire German Sheppard. Mink was generally used only for cabin insulation until they found that they could sell it
Alaska is true wilderness. At the end of the one lane gravel road into Denali National Park you can walk on for over 400-miles without encountering a single sign of human existence. A bear (we saw lots of them) can be born and live out its entire life without ever encountering a human being. There are still folks who live in cabins with no trail or roads for access. They get supplies by bush-pilot plans or whistle stop trains.
I was surprised to note that the mix of “normal” cars and 4-whell drive vehicles was about the same as in Indiana. Some people have a summer car and a winter truck. While there were plenty of hanging baskets of flowers, there was not much attention to lawns or fancy flower beds. Not many BBQ grills or patios either. Summer is just too short for such things. They do embrace the winter with all kinds of games and festivals. Since many areas are only accessible by aircraft landing on ice, water or tundra strips. The older more durable airframes are in great demand. In addition to the ubiquitous DC 3s , Pipers and Cessnas’ I observed some 1940s and 50s vintage Lockheed and Boing prop planes.
People who live in Alaska, love Alaska. They are freer and more self-reliant by choice and necessity. While the lower 48 needs Alaska for it gold (still lots up there), oil and salmon, Alaska is pretty much self-sufficient. I felt rather at home there.