A brief look at some well known paranormal investigators who were the forefathers of modern ghost investigation...
There have been many contributors to research in ghosts and haunting, and we would feel remiss if we didn't bring forth their stories and findings. So, we have noted four famous ghost investigators (sometimes, ghost hunters) who have influenced how we may choose to view and explore supernatural phenomena.
born in Albany, New York
Journalist and paranormal explorer, Charles Fort, chased and collected stories of the bizarre and wrote about them. He never seemed to try to figure anything out through scientific evaluation but was more intrigued by finding examples of things in our world that scientists had no answer for -- Fort wanted to show that scientists sometimes do not recognize their own personal biases found within their theories and experiments.
The well known magazines, Fortean Society Magazine (aka Doubt), then later, Fortean Times, were launched (after Charles Fort's death), seeking to continue his idea of exploring all sorts of strange paranormal phenomena from a skeptical perspective, especially viewing weird accounts objectively and without forming a belief. In other words, his idea that “all phenomena are approximations one way or the other between realness and unrealness” conveys that we should not look to view the unexplained with any predetermined idea about it nor should we form an opinion after examining the evidence. Perhaps the old adage that "some things in our world are not for us to know" might have made good sense to the philosopher, Fort.
Notes: Charles Fort is rumored to have written ten novels with only one of them being published; but he also wrote four books about accounts of the bizarre he collected, attacking scientific approach and bias.
Must Read Book by Charles Fort: The Book of the Damned
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
born in Edinburgh, Scotland
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a member of the Society for Psychic Research in England and an avid spirit investigator, a ghost sleuth, who took particular interest in Spiritualism and the work of psychic mediums. This led him to research and investigate various claims of ghosts, spirits and the paranormal – especially in the field of psychical study. Through his own experiments, Doyle became convinced that life after death, telepathy, and spirit communication were real. He also believed, and defended, beliefs in fairies and spirit photographers of the day. His defense of the Cottingley Fairies and hoax spirit photography would hurt his credibility as a ghost investigator even though the Sherlock Holmes-style of detective work was innovative at the time.
Notes: Famous creator and author of books about detective Sherlock Holmes, but Doyle also penned all sorts of books and plays of different genres.
Must Read Book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Case for Spirit Photography
More Reading: Conan Doyle Ghost & Spirit Photographs
born in London, England
A former magician turned psychical researcher and famed ghost hunter, Harry Price spent his first night in a haunted house when 15 years old, having his first, real ghost experience. He eventually became an expert on conjuring and was adept at debunking fraudulent psychic mediums (something he did, undoubtedly, to make him appear legitimate amongst his critics). Harry Price was a charismatic experimenter and celebrity paranormal investigator – an entertainer who knew how to attract attention, making his paranormal exploits famous. Unfortunately, he seemed to believe and support almost ludicrous claims of the supernatural, at times, and that, along with his attention-seeking, would not help his credibility. It didn't help matters that Price sometimes bent the truth. Still, he brought ghost investigation and experimentation to the forefront.
Notes: Most noted for his investigative work on the haunted Borley Rectory of Essex. Authored over 10 books on spirit mediumship, experiments in the supernatural, haunting and ghosts; he also co-authored a screenplay.
Must Read Book by Harry Price: The Most Haunted House in England: Ten Years' Investigation of Borley Rectory
More on Harry Price:
Harry Price' Lab & Library (video!)
The Ghost Equipment of Harry Price
born in Vienna, Austria
Ghost researcher Hans Holzer began investigating ghost and spirits in the early 1960s. He investigated numerous haunted locations, many of them famous (including the famous Amityville Horror), working exhaustingly with psychic mediums to question and communicate with ghosts, meticulously documenting his cases. Hal Holzer taught modern-day ghost hunters and investigators that they should work to communicate with ghosts and spirits to better understand why haunting takes place and how we may help from "this side" of the world.
Notes: Holzer had written over 140 books on ghosts and paranormal phenomena; but Mr. Holzer's projects also included plays, musicals, films, and documentaries, and he was a consultant for the successful television show, In Search Of.
Must Read Book by Hans Holzer: Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (1997)