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

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

The Forgotten Faces of the Titanic

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Image of the Titanic
Image courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

When the tragic tale of Titanic is told, most tend to focus on the events of the sinking or its most  famous passengers, such as John Jacob Astor and Lucille and Cosmo Duff-Gordon. But among the thousands who sailed on that fateful voyage, there are dozens of passenger stories that are often overlooked. Passengers came from all over the world, including Mexico, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Haiti. Joseph Laroche and his family were among the 2,205 people aboard RMS Titanic.

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Homecoming – Stolen material returns

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postcard front

Several months ago I posted a message from Jeanne (boss lady) about a theft that had occurred at our museum in the 2000’s. (click HERE to read that post)  Long story short, our archivist, Lester F. Weber, stole material from our archives to sell on eBay, and we’re pretty sure that this was his sole purpose in applying for the job.   I am happy to update that we have finally started to contact buyers of the material in a bid to get the pieces back.  It is just the start of a VERY long process, but we have already had a few positive results, which is what I want to highlight in this post.

One of the biggest hits to our archival collection was the loss of Titanic pieces.  These pieces are extremely rare and in high demand as it remains one of the most well known shipwrecks of all time.  One of the pieces returned was an over-sized postcard showing a full view of the starboard side of the ship.  The bottom gives general information about the ship.  Below is a picture.   Read more

Disturbing the Dead

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The original vessel under construction in Belfast. From The Mariners’ Museum collection.

Hello readers and welcome back to the Library blog. For those of you who are unaware, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has just released construction plans for the proposed cruise liner Titanic II. No, I did not mistype that – this man seriously wants to rebuild the Titanic. According to the proposed plans, the Titanic II would be made as close to the original specifications as possible. However, a new deck will be added for lifeboats, the huge steam engines would be replaced by much smaller diesel engines, and the underwater hull would be made slightly more aerodynamic.

The prospect of a replica Titanic sailing the waves is perhaps both a sentimental and a controversial notion to many people. While it is no doubt touching that the people who perished on the first Titanic could be honored and remembered by the creation of a second one, one must consider the endurance and implications of the Titanic’s legacy. The sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic on her maiden voyage is a story that has pervaded the past century, symbolizing the folly of humanity’s hubris in the face of the forces of nature. It is a lesson meant to be so powerful that it bears no repetition: for that reason, every child in America grows up learning its story. By building a second Titanic, are we not throwing away the lessons we learned? Are we not trivializing the importance of the deaths suffered in 1912? Some say that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Perhaps the Titanic II will not literally sink, if it is ever made. But remaking that ship will reject the lessons we were supposed to learn, and trivialize the impact made by all those who died.   Read more