Today’s post comes from Christopher Zarr of the National Archives at New York City.
At first glance, some of our records may not grab your attention.
Take for instance, two documents labeled Exhibit C and D. Exhibit C is a ticket from 1912 for excess luggage, and Exhibit D is a claim coupon to pick up one’s bags upon arrival. Compared to a Presidential speech or an act of Congress, these small items seem out of place for the National Archives.
While they might not seem too important to us, to Lucy Ridsdale this luggage ticket and coupon represented her whole life. To her, they were proof that when she boarded a steamship bound for the United States, she brought five trunks of objects that she had accumulated throughout her 50-plus years on earth.
Lucy Ridsdale was born around 1860 in Yorkshire, England. For 25 years, Lucy ran a nursing home. When she boarded a train bound for the port city of Southampton on April 10, 1912, she was prepared to live out the rest of her days in the United States. It wasn’t her first visit to the U.S., but it would be her last. Lucy had relatives in Marietta, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she intended to enjoy retirement with her family.
So, it is not surprising that she brought everything she owned with her. Bringing … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on March 20, 2012, under Uncategorized, Unusual documents.
Tags: Christopher Zarr, disaster, Lucy Risdale, maritime, National Archives at New York City, new york city, RMS Titanic, Titanic
Today’s guest post was written by William B. Roka, a longtime volunteer at the National Archives in New York City. You can follow them on Facebook as they launch “Titantic Tuesdays” in the weeks leading up to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Since I’m a total history nerd, I was ready to do a little dance when I was allowed to examine some of the Titanic documents in the National Archives as part of my work as a volunteer researcher. But I was disappointed when I saw that most of the documents looked very mundane.
This collection documents the court cases brought after the ship sank. The Titanic’s owner, the Ocean Steam Navigation Company (better known as White Star Line), did not want to pay in full the hundreds of claims for compensation filed by survivors and relatives of victims of the sinking. But as I trudged ahead with my work, I soon realized how wrong I was.
As I examined the claims, I saw that each one had a story to tell. One in particular stuck in my mind. William L. Gwinn was a sea postal clerk working for the U.S. Postal Service (see widow’s claim below). At first I thought he was a regular passenger … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on February 7, 2012, under Unusual documents.
Tags: disaster, J. B. Williamson, Jago Smith, John S. March, mail, maritime disaster, new york city, Ocean Steam Navigation Company, Oscar S. Woody, post office, RMS Titanic, sinking, Titanic, White Star, White Star Line, William L. Gwinn, William Roka
Oddly enough, Facial Hair Fridays is teaching this former medieval art historian a fair amount about the Civil War. (Teachers, take note!) Many of the images in ARC are portraits of Civil War soldiers, and I’ve had to go and look up these generals to put them into a context beyond their finely groomed faces.
I wanted to feature Burnside after finding this picture of him. His mustache and sideburns create an amazing lasso of hair around his face. A quick poke around the Internet suggests that he may have been the inspiration for the phrase “sideburns” but I soon became curious about one of the disastrous battles that he was involved in: the Battle of the Crater.
At the Battle of Crater, Union soldiers decided to dig a tunnel under the Confederates at Elliott’s Salient in Virginia and blow them up.
The idea seems a little less crazy when you consider that among Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s IX Corps was the 8th Regiment, the Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry, many of whom were coal miners.
The actual digging of the tunnel and the explosion were successful.The 586-foot-long tunnel was started on June 25 and was completed on July 23.