Forgotten Faces of Titanic: The Widener Family

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man with mustache
“George Dunton Widener Sr.” Find A Grave, 28 Sept. 2005, www.findagrave.com/memorial/11841844/george-dunton-widener.

It has been 109 years since the R.M.S. Titanic, at one point, deemed the “unsinkable ship,” struck an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 2,205 passengers and crew members aboard, only 704 souls survived that fateful night. Passengers came to travel aboard the ship from all over the world, including approximately 300 from America. The Widener family was among this group of Americans.

George, accompanied by his wife, Eleanor, and their adult son, Harry, was returning from a business trip in Europe and had booked 1st class passage aboard Titanic. Traveling along with their two servants, the family was searching for a new chef for a new hotel, The Ritz Carlton, in Philadelphia. George was the president of several railways and streetcar companies in the Philadelphia area. Eleanor, an heiress, was also a well-known philanthropist, while Harry, a graduate of Harvard University, was an avid rare book collector. It has been noted that Harry’s collection was between 3,000 and 3,500 volumes. Some sources claimed that he had dreamed of building his own educational library or institution someday.    Read more

Celebrating 10 years of History Bites

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A woman and man sitting back-to-back
Wisteria Perry and Eric Jeanneret, “Battle of the Ironclad Chefs/History Bites” March 2012 The Mariners’ Museum and Park

It is amazing how a tiny conversation can turn into something big and delicious! Two words…History Bites!

What’s History Bites, you ask? It is a fabulous food event that has served as the finishing touch of the Museum’s annual Commemoration of the Battle of Hampton Roads for the past 10 years! Local restaurants and caterers show off their culinary talents by recreating historical dishes from the time period. The evening is topped off with awards like Best Entree, Best Dessert, People’s Choice, and of course, the crowning honor of the night, the Ironclad Chef Award for Historical Accuracy.   Read more

The Emancipation Proclamation: What did it actually say and mean for African Americans in the 1860s?

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Abraham Lincoln. The Mariners’ Museum MS0311/-01#005

Do a Google search for important documents in US history and you get lists that include the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and of course, the Emancipation Proclamation.

Going to school in the mid to late 80s in the panhandle of Florida, it was constantly being drilled into my head that the Emancipation Proclamation, written in 1863, freed all slaves in the United States of America. Having studied the Emancipation Proclamation document for various positions that I have held over the years, I have come to understand the significance of this important document so much more.    Read more

I Must Be Outta My Gourd

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Green gourd birdhouse
Green decorated created by a participant using paint, stencils, glue, and pinecone scales.

Isn’t it amazing how one of your hobbies can spill over into your work life and it is considered to be a good thing?! Two years ago, my co-worker Erica Deale approached me to be a part of the Park series that she developed. This meant that I could share one of my favorite crafting mediums: GOURDS! Yes, gourds! Not those colorful ones you see everywhere in fall decorations, and which can rot after a few weeks. I mean the ones that have been known to last for years! 

Gourds are members of the Cucurbitaceae family which includes: cucumbers, squash, melons, and zucchini. They can be ornamental or hardshell and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For centuries, cultures around the world have turned this gift from nature into water dippers, bowls, masks, baskets, jewelry, and musical instruments. Today, you can see gourds turned into birdhouses and creative masterpieces using coiling, glues, beads, clay, decoupage, fabric, paint, woodburning, and so much more. You are only limited by your imagination!    Read more

The Forgotten Faces of Titanic series: The Story of Richard Norris Williams II

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People in life jackets
Women and Children First, ca. 1912-1915
Courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

One fateful night 107 years ago, a ship on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, struck an iceberg and began its long journey into the annals of maritime history. Passengers and crew members came from all corners of the world, including close to 300 Americans. Richard Norris Williams II was one of those traveling on board Titanic

At just 21 years old, Richard Norris Williams II was already an accomplished tennis player and was studying at Harvard University. Richard and his father were heading home to play in a tournament and came aboard as first-class passengers in Cherbourg, France. As first-class passengers onboard a White Star liner, they enjoyed all the amenities that the ship had to offer, including barbershop, daily newspaper, gymnasium, heated pools, elegant meals, and more.   Read more