A Quest for Identity

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Facial reconstructions generated by LSU’s FACES Lab from the remains of two sailors recovered from USS Monitor’s gun turret.

The Mariners’ Museum and NOAA have a strong, ongoing desire to positively identify two sets of human remains recovered from Monitor‘s gun turret in 2002. Experts have documented and studied the remains, extracted viable DNA for comparison with modern samples, and attempted to verify the sailors’ identities. Unfortunately no matches have been found to date. With all information gathered and stored for future use, the remains were buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on March 8, 2013.

Lack of positive identification hasn’t stopped Mariners’ and NOAA staff and the general public from trying to learn more about Monitor‘s sailors. Prior to burial of the remains, experts at LSU’s FACES Lab reconstructed both sailors’ faces using scientific and artistic methods. LSU staff believe their reconstructions have a strong resemblance to the original sailors, and they have had an over 90% success rate in identifying modern remains based upon their facial reconstructions. So we can state with some confidence that LSU’s facial reconstructions of USS Monitor sailors have a likeness to the original men who gave their lives on December 31, 1862.   Read more

Passenger Lists from the Archives

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Every so often the Library has visitors who are interested in finding evidence that a family member traveled via steamship during a certain time, to/from a certain place. One of our many unique resources from the archives helps to solve this mystery: passenger lists.

In our MS0015 Steamship Ephemera Collection, our volunteers have worked hard to catalog 371 passenger lists from the vessels of 58 steamship lines with voyages that range in date from 1878 to 1988. Many of these lists include the voyage date, the port of departure, the ports of entry, and, of course, passenger names. Other lists also include the names of the captain and his crew, sailing schedules, route maps, and general “housekeeping” information for passengers.   Read more