I was in communication with a fellow Loch Ness Monster enthusiast recently about an aspect of Loch Ness research that barely gets a mention in the general discussion and that is the legacy of past researchers.
We can list the honoured people who dedicated years if not decades in the pursuit of this mystery who are no longer with us. I think primarily of Rupert T. Gould, Constance Whyte, Tim Dinsdale and F. W. Holiday and others. But there will be the lesser known people who gathered material on Loch Ness but never went to print with them. We also have the groups such as the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau which has long disbanded.
Yes, we have the books, newspaper articles and magazine features but what about their private collection of material? We can be sure that not everything of interest made it into their books and we can be sure that items continued to be gathered after their last publications and before their death or disbanding.
I have queried various national library catalogues with no indication that any works were deposited with these publicly accessible organisations. Admittedly, some collections will still be held by the family of the deceased. Some will not be considered significant enough to be put in the vaults of these places while some were sadly destroyed or lost when the estate of the deceased was distributed.
I have hopes that the works of Rupert Gould on the Loch Ness Monster will be hidden amongst his other notable horological items. I suspect these may be in the British Library or some other archive in the London area.
I am optimistic that Tim Dinsdale's works are still with his family and well preserved.
Constance Whyte's works are a mystery as they seem to have been bequeathed to someone but have been subsequently lost. This needs clarification.
F. W. Holiday's works are a mystery too. He died unmarried and without children as far as I know. I have a theory as to where they are now but again this needs clarification.
But the biggest question mark is the whereabouts and accessibility of the materials gathered between 1962 and 1972 by the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau. I suspect some material may be held at the Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochit but they need to confirm that. A lot of material may have been distributed to individuals on their closure. The point I want to make is that the LNIB materials ought to be made publicly accessible to all researchers.
If the mission statement of such founder members as David James and Constance Whyte was :
"To study Loch Ness to identify the creature known as the Loch Ness Monster or determine the causes of reports of it."
Then who are the successors of the LNIB and on whom does the mantle now fall? Certainly not any one individual but I would suggest anyone with a serious interest in the subject - be they on the "skeptics" or "believers" side.
Meanwhile, access to private individual collections are a matter for the new owners to consider. Do they let these items of potential importance lie in a dark corner of an attic until they decay or are thrown away? Must a new generation of researchers have this information lost forever or have to go through the exertions of re-discovering old knowledge again?
Finally, I am not addressing the matter of how these materials are made accessible. It is unlikely that much of these items are digitised or ready for email and the web. It may be that one has to physically travel to see such material. It may be a matter of someone volunteering of their time to scan and collate documents. The point of this posting is the matter of being granted access in the first place.
The legacy of the Loch Ness mystery should be made available to those who can take it further. If anyone has such a collection, I ask them to contact me about what they have!
Subject to confirmation, the state of ownership of various archives is:
LNIB: Loch Ness Centre under supervision of Adrian Shine (have asked for confirmation)
Tim Dinsdale: presumed held by family
Rupert T. Gould: presumed held by family
F. W. Holiday: Some or all of his material was held by Alastair Boyd
Constance Whyte: Held at one time by Nicholas Witchell (rumours of this being lost need to be confirmed/denied by Nicholas himself).