Thursday 13 August 2009

Musings on the Titanic

This headline from a copy of the The Daily Mirror 16th April 1912, which appears in a collection held by Archive Services, struck us as interesting for several reasons. Firstly passengers were still being reported as safe a day after the disaster, something which could never happen in today’s world of tweets and blogs. Secondly a number of published reports of the sinking appear scattered throughout the archive collections - people kept them as ‘souvenirs’ and they have been passed onto the archives with the rest of their papers. These ‘accidental’ inclusions in an archive can often be as illuminating as the official record. What kinds of mementos or reminders of newsworthy events do people keep today and how will these be preserved in future? Will blogs appear in the archives 100 years from now?

Our interest in the Titanic was sparked by some records in our collections which detail the history of the Californian, the ship that was only 5 miles away from the Titanic when she sank. The crew on the Californian saw the rockets fired from the Titanic but did not suspect a disaster, had they done so many more lives may have been saved. Details of the Californian can be found in copies of the Ingram Shipping Registers, held by Archive Services, which note the history of ships built in Dundee, Arbroath, Perth and Fife including where they sailed and their builders, owners and masters. The Californian, the largest vessel ever built in Dundee, met her end 3 years after the Titanic when she was torpedoed off Cape Matapan, Greece.

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