A Look at Titanic Through a Few Mariners’ Artifacts

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Poster advertising James Cameron’s Titanic from 1997. The Mariners’ Museum and Park 2012.0007.000031

The year 2022 marks the 110th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic on April 15, 1912, and it is also the 25th anniversary of James Cameron’s movie by the same name. I would like to pay my respect by highlighting a few Titanic-related artifacts that the Museum has in its Collection.

Twenty-five years ago, James Cameron debuted his version of the Titanic story featuring Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet as the fictional and ill-fated lovers, Jack and Rose. The poster depicts the ship’s bow and the embracing stars; the movie title and film details are featured prominently at the bottom. On the back of the poster is a reverse image that was originally designed to be used with a lightbox. Using the lightbox gives the reverse artwork a more life-like appearance when placed behind it. Printing this type of poster was quite expensive and involved running the initial negative through at normal color intensity. It was then reversed and run back through the presses, printing the back at a reduced color intensity.   Read more

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