It can be really exciting when you decide that you want to really dive and start researching the paranormal, but you may not know where to start. Some people think that you need to be a part of a group to learn everything or that you have to do an online course to get all of the information. Both of these are good options depending on the person, but they are also not your only options. You can sort through your own path of research if you wish, and you don't have to break the bank to do it. It does involve a bit of work on your part, but it is something you can absolutely do!
A lot of people like to start out by researching a location. While of course, you can do a google search, it can be difficult to filter through fact and fiction - and there is a lot of fiction out there. A lot of people tend to write blogs about locations, and sometimes they will use local rumours and legends and state them as fact. If you do use these kinds of sites for information, make sure they are referencing where they got their information so that you can fact check their source. Fact-checking should be a regular part of your research. I aim to fact check a minimum of 3 sources just because sometimes one of the sources along the line either gets it wrong or improvises information. I have learned this lesson the hard way myself. It is also worth mentioning here, Wikipedia is not always a reliable source of information. It can help point you in the right direction in terms of sources of information as there is a list of sources at the bottom of each topic you can explore but as for the bulk of the text written itself, remember anyone can edit a Wikipedia page and sometimes the information written is heavily biased based on who has edited the information. Check the sources before using the information.
For historical records, a newspaper is a good place to start.
Many people like to research the history of a location or even the history of certain people attached to a location. While nothing beats going to the library and looking through public records, you can also search these records which include newspaper archives from the comfort of your home. Trove is an online digitized database that contains newspaper articles and some public records held by libraries. You can search through historical newspapers and gazettes which will show you the article published based on your search. Some of the older versions are very hard to read. While translations are generated, they are not always accurate and need a human to look over it. A lot of people will find this kind of resource useful when doing location-based research. I have used this a lot when working with my Tales of Black Rock House series for example to help document timelines and also figures attached to the property. https://trove.nla.gov.au/
Some information is not available to view online, but it will tell you what location or library you can view the record, and you can even order a copy to be sent to you at a cost. While this is an Australian based website, you will find that most newspapers are archived on different websites all over the World.
It may also be worth paying a visit to your local historical society. They will often have information that is a part of the public record that you can view onsite. They will often make photocopies for you at a small charge. There are historians who dedicate their lives to this kind of research and have likely already done a bulk of the work. These people often have access to records that you cannot normally access such as hospital and prison records and can provide you with a copy of these records at a cost. Some also work with popular ancestry websites and can pull this information from the records available there for a small cost.
In Victoria, we have a service called PROV which is the Public Record Office Of Victoria. You can often search for certain records through their website and while some are available to view online, other records are made available at a cost. They have things such as immigration and passenger records, hospital and mental health records, wills and probates, land registration, and family history. There are also different services that can attend PROV on your behalf to obtain records at a cost. You just need to tell them what you are after and they can give you a price. Different states or provinces will likely have some form of public record office that offers a similar sort of service. https://prov.vic.gov.au/
If there is a particular venue that you are interested in researching, liaise with the venue itself. They will have already done all of this work with historians and have all of these historical records. In many cases, they also have relationships with the local community who donate items, and tell their own stories of their ties with the property and its history. They may even have brochures or books full of this historical information. Usually buying a copy of their book means proceeds are going back to the venue so this is a win win situation! You will find a lot of the volunteers who work with these venues have a wealth of information to share and can tell you so much more than a google search will. Many will have historical tours you can attend and learn about the history first hand. They will often have spooky stories to share as well, while they don't normally tell them during the tour as it has a focus on history, if you take them aside afterward and ask them, they will usually have something spooky to share. In fact, they are often excited to tell their story to someone who doesn't think they are crazy!
Eventually, you may decide that you want to research more about the paranormal itself, not just the locations. One of the things that people will always encourage you to do when it comes to paranormal research, is to look at the work of those who came before us. A lot of work was done in psychical research and parapsychology and it shaped the way the paranormal field is today. What better way to learn than to read the words of the actual people who did this work.
There is so much information available in the public domain. While it is really nice to have a book or physical item in your hand to read, sometimes these are no longer in print or cost hundreds of dollars. Archive.org has a large collection of articles, pamphlets, and books available to read for free in the public domain. It even allows you to download a copy in PDF format to your computer, so you could print it out if you really want to read it by hand. Of course, it is important to remember that like anything, this is based on their own research and theories, but it can help you to gain a scope on the wider picture. It can even help you to decide where you want to take your own paranormal research. It may give you some ideas for new experiments you want to try. It may even change your mind or make you question some of the things you believe when it comes to the paranormal. A lot of the older texts written in the 1800's can be very difficult to read as the language can be quite technical. Give it a try and you will soon find which authors or researchers you prefer reading the work of.
People will often tell you to get reading and to read as much about the paranormal as you can. There is no shortage when it comes to paranormal books. Deciding what to get can be difficult. With self-publishing huge right now, it means anyone can publish a book. This is great because it means you have exposure to the work of people that normally wouldn't be able to give their work a platform. The downside is 'anyone' can write a book and sometimes the information is sketchy and research is not historically correct. Again you tend to then be reading a person's opinions and experiences so it is important to choose wisely. If there is a writer you follow and you enjoy their work, it is a pretty safe bet that you will enjoy their book too. Don't underestimate a self-published book just because it may not have a fancy cover or a big marketing campaign. It is the inside that counts. Look at reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and you will get a fair gauge if it is something you want to pick up. Of course, you can always just gamble and give it a try! I have found some wonderful books that have inspired me in some way that I took a chance on. I may not agree with everything written, but it has still been of use to me.
Of course, there are some books that people will say are must-haves for your collection. I have always been told Hans Holzer's Ghosts is one of those books and is a great example of something I don't agree with all the way but still find useful. The problem is, this can be a pretty pricey book. Some popular historical books are hundreds of dollars and others are out of print. Not everyone has a spare $100 to spend on a book (I know I don't!). The good news is, you can still pick up a copy without breaking the bank!
World Of Books source all kinds of books from charity shops, second-hand stores, etc and sell them second-hand. It is like having a second-hand shop right at your fingertips! The condition of the books can be from almost new to well-read. You can often pick up books for less than half the price than they would be brand new, so long as you don't mind a few creases. I don't know about you, but I actually like books that are a little bit worn. I have bought many books from here including Hans Holzer's Ghosts, Houdini's a magician among spirits, Peter Bander's Voices From the Tapes, and one of Rosemary Ellen Guiley's famed encyclopedias all at a fraction of the price they would be brand new (in fact some you cannot buy new as they are no longer in print). https://www.worldofbooks.com/
It is also worth having a chat with your paranormal peers and setting up a book lending system. You could each buy a book that you want to read and then swap them over with each other when done. I have a friend that automatically gets whatever I have just finished reading and vice versa. It means we are reading double the content at half the price.
So now you have all of these resources, but you don't know what to look at! I have spent a lot of time collating a list of informative websites and blogs that I have found full of reliable and valuable information. A special mention the Society for Psychical Research PSI Encyclopedia and their collection of articles and case studies specifically about psi research - the scientific investigation of psychic phenomena. There is such a large wealth of information available out there and it is free to access. I have also put together links to different academic papers that have been written in conjunction with paranormal research for those who want to dig a bit deeper and have an academic insight. Finally, I have a list of various historical books that are available on archive.org that are on the usual recommended reading lists with the more famous researchers that most would recommend you look into. Books by Konstantin Raudive, Harry Price, J.B Rhine, and Frederic W. H. Myers to name a few. I am always updating this list with more and more sources, so if you come across something you think people would find useful, send me the information and I can add it to the list!
Ask around for recommendations of books, blogs, websites, journals, and even online lectures that can help you with your research. Of course, out in the field experience is important to a degree as this is how you will learn the practical side, but don't underestimate the importance of the knowledge you can gain from reading a book or researching archives. A lot of people spend their time trying to get into a paranormal group to 'show them the ropes' etc. It can be hard to find someone who is willing to put in that time, so sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands. If this is the case, on top of your at-home research, visit locations during the day. (Remember you don't have to investigate at night). You don't need cases of equipment. Take a notebook and pen and talk to the people that work there about their experiences. Make observations. Use the most important tool you have ..... you! When you are ready, book into your local investigations. Most people started by heading out on a local team's investigation. It can help get your foot in the door and help you to meet the people that will end up on the journey with you. It can also help you decide pretty quickly what kind of investigator you want to be. Read books and start shaping your own path. Connect with others on social media and talk to them about their experiences. There is no shortage of groups online you can participate in. You don't have to be a part of a paranormal group to investigate the paranormal. If you can't join one and you really really want to be in a group, start your own. Everyone has started somewhere and most will tell you that nothing was handed to them. They did everything on their own back including their own learning. If you have ever wanted to take your research to the next level, now is the time to start.
What tips do you have for people wanting to research more about the paranormal? Feel free to share your story with how you dived into paranormal research and what you did to develop further.
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