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Tag: sinking

Sisters in Fate: The Lusitania and the 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 “Titantic Tuesdays” on Facebook as they post records and images in remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

The beginning of Captain Turner's testimony about the conditions of the ice near the Titanic, one day before the fateful sailing of the Lusitania. “In the Matter of the Petition of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Limited, for Limitation of its Liability as owner of the steamship TITANIC”; Admiralty Case Files Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21; National Archives at New York City.

On the morning of May 1, 1915, Pier 54 on the Hudson River was awash with people, luggage, and cargo. A great transatlantic liner was readying to sail back to England. There was somewhat ominous tone to the activities: small notices about war zones had appeared in various newspapers.

The captain of this great vessel had spent the day before at the New York City offices of Hunt, Hill & Betts. He had been asked to testify by lawyers involved in the limitation of liability case related to the Titanic disaster, which was dragging into its third year.

He was asked a series of questions about the size and design of ships on the Cunard Line, … [ Read all ]

RMS Titanic: Letters from a Lost Liner

A detail from the claim submitted by Florence Gwinn, the widow of William Gwinn.

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 ]