Large sums are spent annually collecting and, increasingly, electronically encoding field data, making them widely accessible. Earlier data were recorded on paper, and archived at a few institutions, which eventually discard them. Data recovery and distribution is a valuable contribution to science, as it counters the 'shifting baseline' syndrome and ensures long-term returns on funds society invested in data gathering. Data recovery need not be expensive. We present the data recovery from the Guinean Trawling Survey, conducted in the early 1960s off West Africa, which cost 0.2% of initial survey costs. Research and graduate training institutions, as well as funding agencies should make digital data globally available as part of their deliverables.