Homecoming – Stolen material returns

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postcard front

Several months ago I posted a message from Jeanne (boss lady) about a theft that had occurred at our museum in the 2000’s. (click HERE to read that post)  Long story short, our archivist, Lester F. Weber, stole material from our archives to sell on eBay, and we’re pretty sure that this was his sole purpose in applying for the job.   I am happy to update that we have finally started to contact buyers of the material in a bid to get the pieces back.  It is just the start of a VERY long process, but we have already had a few positive results, which is what I want to highlight in this post.

One of the biggest hits to our archival collection was the loss of Titanic pieces.  These pieces are extremely rare and in high demand as it remains one of the most well known shipwrecks of all time.  One of the pieces returned was an over-sized postcard showing a full view of the starboard side of the ship.  The bottom gives general information about the ship.  Below is a picture.   Read more

Disturbing the Dead

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The original vessel under construction in Belfast. From The Mariners’ Museum collection.

Hello readers and welcome back to the Library blog. For those of you who are unaware, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has just released construction plans for the proposed cruise liner Titanic II. No, I did not mistype that – this man seriously wants to rebuild the Titanic. According to the proposed plans, the Titanic II would be made as close to the original specifications as possible. However, a new deck will be added for lifeboats, the huge steam engines would be replaced by much smaller diesel engines, and the underwater hull would be made slightly more aerodynamic.

The prospect of a replica Titanic sailing the waves is perhaps both a sentimental and a controversial notion to many people. While it is no doubt touching that the people who perished on the first Titanic could be honored and remembered by the creation of a second one, one must consider the endurance and implications of the Titanic’s legacy. The sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic on her maiden voyage is a story that has pervaded the past century, symbolizing the folly of humanity’s hubris in the face of the forces of nature. It is a lesson meant to be so powerful that it bears no repetition: for that reason, every child in America grows up learning its story. By building a second Titanic, are we not throwing away the lessons we learned? Are we not trivializing the importance of the deaths suffered in 1912? Some say that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Perhaps the Titanic II will not literally sink, if it is ever made. But remaking that ship will reject the lessons we were supposed to learn, and trivialize the impact made by all those who died.   Read more

One Last Look at Her.

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Illustration of Titanic and Olympic, from 1911 brochure
From the cover of a 1911 White Star Line brochure, a wonderful illustration of their new superliners Titanic and Olympic. From the Archives.

Before I let RMS Titanic go as a topic of this blog, I have one more image I feel compelled to share with you.  This is the cover of a brochure we have in the Steamship Ephemera collection, in which White Star Line advertises both its new super liners, Olympic and Titanic.  This brochure has some magnificent illustrations from the building of both vessels and dates from 1911.  I would be happy to show it to you in person if you stop by the Library.  Really, very happy.  Here it is.

As we remember…

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Titanic Deck Plan
A deck plan of RMS Titanic, probably to be used in conjunction with a brochure for choosing one's cabin. From the Archives.

Like many of you, I have been fascinated with the story of RMS Titanic for as long as I can remember.  I’m not sure why, exactly.  I wasn’t a particularly sympathetic child, grieving over the story of hundreds of lives lost.  That was a characteristic I developed in adulthood.  I also don’t think that I had some mysterious connection to the gentility of the Edwardian past.  I think I was attracted, as many boys are, to the utter grandeur of the ship itself and to the spectacle of the ship dying, as it were.  Despite its many flaws, the Leo DeCaprio / Kate Winslet film put me very much in touch with the awe I experienced as a boy reading about and imagining this engineering miracle as it succumbed to the icy Atlantic.  Some boys loved cars; I loved massive ocean liners.  Go figure.

Anyway, thanks to my friends in Photographic Services, I am bringing you an engineering (sort of) document from our Steamship Ephemera collection:  a deck plan of Titanic, sans chairs.  In memory of all those who graced that magnificent ship a hundred years ago today.   Read more

New Letters from Titanic Survivors

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RMS Titanic
"The Largest Vessel & The Largest Floating Crane in the World, the White Star Liner 'Titanic'". From the Eldredge Collection at The Mariners' Museum.

Today, Archives staff has put up on the web finding aids for letters in our collections from two survivors of the Titanic disaster.  Have a look at the finding aids for the Mary Lines Letter and the Helen R. Ostby Letter under Special Collections and choose the category “Shipwrecks, Collisions, Salvage and Underwater Archaeology.”

Both these young women were first-class passengers on Titanic.  Mary Lines, Paris-educated daughter of the president of the New York Life Insurance Company, boarded at Southampton, England.  Helen Ostby, travelling with her father, a jeweler, came aboard in Cherbourg, France.   Read more