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Tag: Titanic

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 ]

Lucy Ridsdale and the Titanic Tragedy

“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.

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 … [ 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 ]