Charm in Unexpected Places

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Happy Friday readers!

I’d like to take a minute to encourage you to view a great item that has just been posted on our Library website. It is a full-text, PDF version of a spec book from 1862! This item is usually restricted from public view due to its fragility, but, since we like you so much, we’ve made it accessible here!   Read more

A Very Fond Farewell

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A new voyage awaits. From The Mariners’ Museum Library collection.

Hello everyone, and welcome once more to the Library blog. Sadly, today is my last day writing for you fine readers, and I want you to know what an honor it has been. When I arrived at the Library in June, I knew nothing about the SS United States, but with some guidance and access to the Library’s archives I was able to discover her very real and very poignant story. In my mind’s eye, she is not only AN ocean liner – she is now THE ocean liner, and still fastest in the world. I likewise new little about piracy, save that it was a problem off of Somalia. Through investigation of the Library’s resources and rare book collection, I found out where our modern conception of pirates came from and how much of a problem it still is even in the modern day. For the past six months, these topics have been the focus of my blog posts, but there in truth they only scratch the surface of what the Library has to offer.

For every photograph, book or document featured in my posts, dozens more exist in the archive. I could spend a lifetime documenting, organizing and analyzing the sources available here – nevertheless, I’m grateful for the six months I HAVE had. It has truly been a pleasure to work on the Library blog. The staff members have been universally kind and helpful, and I am still surprised at how much I learned. My deepest thanks go out to Jay, Jenn, Tom, Bill, Patti, and all the rest of The Mariners’ Museum Library family that made me feel welcome and helped me discover a whole new world hidden in the archives. Thanks for reading, and farewell.   Read more

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

Library receives major donation of steamship ephemera

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R.M.S. Aquitania
From a 1930 cruise, signed by a boy who was in Grade 2 that year.

Last week, a very large collection of items relating to passenger liners from the late 1800s up to the 1980s landed at the Museum.  Besides a large number of artifacts, over 14,000 archival items, ranging in description from menus to brochures to stationery to family snapshots, were donated by Mrs. Norma D. Beazley from her late husband Herbert Beazley’s collection.  Archives may have gotten the lion’s share of the gift, but the book collection too is now adorned with beautiful volumes on the Golden Age of Steamships.  By our measure, the amount of steamship ephemera at the Library (anything archival that isn’t a book or a photograph, for our purposes here) has increased by about 60%, conservatively speaking.

The long road to making this massive collection available to the public has begun, but this author cannot resist the temptation to give you a few sneak-peeks below.  These are items from the file on the beautiful RMS Aquitania, sister to Cunard’s Lusitania and the last of the four-funnelled liners to grace the ocean.  Enjoy!   Read more