Some of our most fruitful, well used resources are amateur collections of material compiled by people who just had an interest in a subject and pursued it doggedly.
Above you can see a page from a WW1 scrapbook made by a man named John Fraser. The book begins in March 1914 with newspaper cuttings about the weather and items of general interest. As war broke out, however, Fraser starts to clip articles and photographs of Orcadians serving abroad. If a soldier was mentioned in dispatches, injured, killed, promoted or just mentioned, chances are that they appear in this book. Fraser even provides an index at the back.
Because we do not hold service records here, this book is always fetched when relatives of WW1 soldiers visit us in search of information. Just last week, a Canadian gentlemen who had only half an hour to spare, managed to find both great uncles and a grandfather. This book was never officially commissioned and perhaps no-one but John Fraser knew about it while it was being made, but it has proved it's worth time and time again.
Comparable archives include the entire Ernest Walker Marwick Collection, which consistes of over 70 boxes stuffed with notes and essays on folklore, tradition and Orcadian culture and Magnus Spence's collection of similar materials on geology, botany, meteorology etc...