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The hundreds of Union veterans and recently released prisoners of war who boarded the steamboat Sultana on April 24, 1865, were bloodied, exhausted and starving—but unlike more than 600,000 of their fellow soldiers who fought in the Civil War, they were alive. They had survived barbarous battles and notorious POW camps such as Andersonville and Cahaba. Most of them, however, would not survive the seemingly routine trip home.
As the soldiers boarded the giant wooden steamship docked in Vicksburg, Mississippi, some of them heard hammering in the engine room where furious repairs were being made to one of the vessel’s four coal-fired boilers, which had begun to leak on the journey up the Mississippi River from New Orleans. Vicksburg boilermaker R.G. Taylor, who had been summoned to the ship, found a bulge in a seam and told Sultana’s captain and part owner, J. Cass Mason, that a proper repair would take days.
For Mason, however, time was indeed money. During the Civil War, the War Department contracted with private steamboat operators to transport troops—paying $5 for every enlisted man and $10 for each officer. Not wanting to miss out on a big payday, Mason ordered Taylor and his crew to place a temporary patch on the leaky boiler and vowed to make full repairs once his steamer reached its destination in Cairo, Illinois.
Steamboat captains weren’t above bribing military officials to steer passengers to their ships, and Reuben Hatch wasn’t above taking them. The Union Army’s chief quartermaster in Vicksburg, who oversaw the contracting of private steamboats, had been court-martialed for graft in 1861, but his brother, Illinois Secretary of State Ozias Hatch, had the ear of President Abraham Lincoln, who interceded to have the charges dropped. Although a February 1865 government examining board had found Hatch “totally unfit” to serve as quartermaster, his powerful political connections kept him protected.
Likely incentivized by a kickback from Mason, Hatch steered 2,400 passengers onto Sultana, which was licensed to carry only 376 passengers, while two other steamboats sat in Vicksburg practically empty. “We were driven on like so many hogs until every foot of standing room was occupied,” Union Corporal George M. Clinger recalled. So many passengers piled aboard the wooden-hulled steamboat that its decks began to sag until the crew hastily reinforced them with beams to prevent their collapse. When Sultana reached Helena, Arkansas, the rush of soldiers to one side of the ship to pose for a photographer nearly capsized the vessel.
After the crew unloaded 250 barrels of sugar and 97 cases of wine in Memphis, the steamboat became particularly top-heavy. Still carrying six times its legal capacity, Sultana wobbled against the currents of the flood-swollen Mississippi in the early morning hours of April 27. Given the flood conditions and the weight of the passengers, the boilers strained as the careening ship paddled upriver.
At 2 a.m., three of the overloaded steamboat’s boilers suddenly exploded. The blast blew gaping holes into the decks and killed hundreds instantly. “The explosion came with a report exceeding any artillery that I had ever heard, and I had heard some that were very heavy at Gettysburg,” Union Private Benjamin Johnston recalled. Hot coals rained down on the steamship, which erupted into a floating inferno.
Those unable to swim—which were most of the passengers—were forced to make split-second decisions between burning or drowning. The struggle to stay alive became a survival of the fittest among a bunch of very unfit men. Already weakened passengers desperately fought the strong currents and exposure as they clung to wooden debris, mattresses and the charred carcasses of army mules floating in the freezing river. As soon as Sultana’s sole lifeboat hit the Mississippi, dozens of flailing men clawed to climb aboard, and the collective weight took all of them down to the river’s murky bottom. A soldier even attacked a woman in an attempt to rip off her life belt. “The animal nature of man came to the surface in the desperate struggle to save himself regardless of the life of others,” wrote Union Private John Walker.
For days afterward, rescuers plucked bodies from trees near the blast zone and pulled them from the river as far south as Vicksburg, 200 miles away. Historians believe that more than 1,800 of the paddle wheeler’s passengers perished. Although called “America’s Titanic,” the Sultana disaster actually claimed 300 more lives than the famed 1912 shipwreck and still remains the greatest maritime disaster in American history.
Unlike the Titanic sinking, however, the Sultana tragedy quickly faded into historical obscurity. Reports of Sultana’s sinking were overshadowed by news the day before that Confederate General Joseph Johnston had agreed to the Civil War’s largest surrender as well as the end of the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth, the man who had assassinated Abraham Lincoln two weeks earlier.
Andrew Carroll, who wrote about Sultana in his book “Here Is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History,” says the monstrous loss of life also lost any shock value to a public already numbed by the Civil War’s unfathomable body count. “There were battles in which tens of thousands of soldiers were casualties, so, to be honest, losing 1,800 wasn’t seen as much more horrific.”
“We have as a people become so accustomed to suffering of horrors during the past few years that they soon seem to lose their appalling features, and are forgotten,” the Memphis Argus reported just 11 days after the tragedy. “Only a few days ago 1,500 lives were sacrificed to fire and water, almost within sight of the city. Yet, even now, the disaster is scarcely mentioned—some new excitement has taken its place.”
Conspiracy theorists suspected Confederate spies had planted bombs on board the steamboat as an act of sabotage, but the leaky boilers were likely to blame. The overcrowding resulted in the incredible death count, if not the explosion itself by overtaxing the weakened boilers. Three separate commissions investigated the disaster but ultimately held no one responsible. Hatch ignored three subpoenas and was never prosecuted. Mason went down with his ship.
Carroll notes that many of the victims, even in death, suffered a further indignity. In 1867, the military disinterred victims from their initial graves so that they could be reburied with military honors in Memphis National Cemetery. The military chalked the names of the men on their caskets, but a thunderstorm erupted en route and washed away the identities of the deceased, who are now buried in row after row of unmarked graves.
Sexuality, Gender and Justice
The first gender affirmation surgeries took place in 1920s, at a facility which employed transgender technicians and nurses, and which was headed by a gay Jewish man. The forgotten history of the institute, and its fall to Nazis bent on the euthanasia of homosexuals and transgender people, offers us both hope&mdashand a cautionary tale&mdashin the face of oppressive anti-trans legislation in the United States.
This story begins late one night in Berlin, on the cusp of the 20th century. Magnus Hirschfeld, a young doctor recently finished with his military service, found a German soldier on his doorstep. Distraught and agitated, the young man had come to confess himself an urning, a word used in Germany to refer to homosexual men. It explained the cover of darkness to speak of such things was dangerous business. The infamous &ldquoParagraph 175&rdquo in the German criminal code made homosexuality illegal a man so accused could be stripped of his ranks and titles and imprisoned.
Hirschfeld understood the soldier&rsquos plight he was, himself, both homosexual and Jewish. He had toured Europe, watched the unfolding trial against Oscar Wilde, and written an anonymous pamphlet asking why &ldquothe married man who seduces the governess&rdquo remains free, while homosexual men in loving and consensual relationships&mdashmen like Oscar Wilde&mdashwere imprisoned. Hirschfeld did his best to comfort the man, but upon leaving his doctor, the soldier shot himself. It was the eve of his wedding, an event he could not face.
The soldier bequeathed his private papers to Hirschfeld, along with a letter: &ldquothe thought that you could contribute to [a future] when the German fatherland will think of us in more just terms,&rdquo he wrote, &ldquosweetens the hour of death.&rdquo Hirschfeld would be forever haunted by this needless loss the soldier had called himself a &ldquocurse,&rdquo fit only to die, because the expectations of heterosexual norms, reinforced by marriage and law, made no room for his kind. These heartbreaking stories, Hirschfeld wrote, &ldquobring before us the whole tragedy [in Germany] what fatherland did they have, and for what freedom were they fighting?&rdquo In the aftermath of this lonely death, Hirschfeld left his practice to specialize in sexual health, and began a crusade for justice that would alter the course of queer history.
Hirschfeld called his specialty &ldquosexual intermediaries.&rdquo Included beneath this umbrella were what he considered &ldquosituational&rdquo and &ldquoconstitutional&rdquo homosexuals&mdasha recognition that there is often a spectrum and bisexual practice&mdashas well as what he termed &ldquotransvestites.&rdquo This group did include those who wished to wear the clothes of the opposite sex, but also those who &ldquofrom the point of view of their character,&rdquo should be considered as the opposite sex.
One soldier with whom Hirschfeld had worked described wearing women&rsquos clothing as the chance &ldquoto be a human at least for a moment.&rdquo He likewise recognized that these people could be either homosexual or heterosexual, something that is still misunderstood about transgender people today. Perhaps even more surprising was Hirschfeld&rsquos inclusion of those with no fixed gender at all, akin to today&rsquos concept of gender fluid or nonbinary identity (he counted French novelist George Sand among them). Most importantly for Hirschfeld, these men and women were acting &ldquoin accordance with their nature,&rdquo not against it.
If this seems like extremely forward thinking for the time, it was&mdashpossibly more forward thinking than our own. Current anti-trans sentiments center on the idea that transgender is both unnatural and new. In the wake of a U.K. court decision limiting trans rights, an editorial in the Economist argued that other countries should follow suit, and an editorial in the Observer praised the court for resisting a &ldquodisturbing trend&rdquo of children receiving medical treatments as part of a gender transition. But history bears witness to the plurality of gender and sexuality Hirschfeld considered Socrates, Michelangelo and Shakespeare to be sexual intermediaries he considered himself (and his partner Karl Geise) to be the same. Hirschfeld&rsquos own predecessor, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, had claimed in the 19th century that homosexuality was natural sexual variation&mdashand Hirschfeld believed that a person was congenitally born that way.
This was no trend or fad, but a recognition that people may be born with a nature contrary to their assigned gender. And, in cases where the desire to live as the opposite sex was strong, Hirschfeld thought science ought to provide a means of transition. He purchased a Berlin villa in early 1919 and opened the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Research) on July 6. By 1930 it would perform the first modern gender affirmation surgeries in the world.
A PLACE OF SAFETY
A corner building with wings to either side, the institute was an architectural gem that blurred the line between professional and intimate living spaces. A journalist reported it could not &ldquobe a hospital,&rdquo for it was furnished, plush, and &ldquofull of life everywhere.&rdquo It&rsquos stated purpose: to be a place of &ldquoresearch, teaching, healing, and refuge&rdquo that could &ldquofree the individual from physical ailments, psychological afflictions, and social deprivation.&rdquo Hirschfeld&rsquos institute would also be a place of education. While in medical school, he&rsquod experienced the trauma of watching as a gay man was paraded naked before the class, to be verbally abused as degenerate.
At his institute, Hirschfeld would instead provide sex education and health clinics, advice on contraception, and research on gender and sexuality, both anthropological and psychological. He worked tirelessly to try and overturn Paragraph 175, managed to get legally accepted &ldquotransvestite&rdquo identity cards for his patients, and worked to normalize and legitimize homosexual and transitioning individuals. The grounds also included room for offices given over to feminist activists, as well as a printing house for sex reform journals meant to dispel myths about sexuality. &ldquoLove,&rdquo Hirschfeld said, &ldquois as varied as people are.&rdquo
The institute would ultimately house an immense library on sexuality, gathered over many years and including rare books and diagrams and protocols for male-to-female (MTF) surgical transition. In addition to psychiatrists for therapy, he had had hired Ludwig Levy-Lenz, a gynecologist, and surgeon Erwin Gohrbandt. Together, they performed male-to-female surgery called genitalumwandlung&mdashliterally, &ldquotransformation of genitals.&rdquo This occurred in stages: castration, penectomy and vaginoplasty. (The Institute only treated men at this time female-to-male phalloplasty would not be practiced until 1949 by plastic surgeon Sir Harold Gillies). Importantly, patients would also be prescribed hormone therapy, allowing them to grow natural breasts and softer features.&rdquo
Their groundbreaking studies, meticulously documented, drew international attention&mdashand international patients, as well. Rights and recognition did not immediately follow, however. After surgery, some transwomen had difficulty getting work to support themselves, and as a result, five became nurses at the institute itself. In this way, Hirschfeld sought to provide a safe space for those whose altered bodies differed from the gender they were assigned at birth&mdashincluding, at times, protection from the law.
LIVES WORTH LIVING
That such an institute existed as early as 1919, recognizing the plurality of gender identity and offering support, even through affirming surgery, comes as a surprise to many. It should have been the bedrock on which to build a bolder future. But as the institute celebrated its first decade, the Nazi party was already on the rise. By 1932, it was the largest political party in Germany, holding more parliamentary seats, and growing its numbers through a nationalism that targeted the immigrant, the disabled, the &ldquogenetically unfit.&rdquo Weakened by economic crisis and without a majority, the Weimer Republic would collapse. Hitler was named chancellor on January 30, 1933 and would enact policies to rid Germany of lebensunwertes Leben that is, &ldquolives unworthy of living.&rdquo What began as a sterilization program ultimately led to the extermination of millions of Jews, &ldquoGypsies,&rdquo Soviet and Polish citizens&mdashand homosexuals and transgender people. The Nazis came for the Institute on May 10, 1933. Hirschfeld was out of the country. Karl Geise fled with what he could carry everything else would perish by fire.
The carnage would flicker over German newsreels, the first (but by no means last) of the Nazi book burnings. Troops swarmed the building, carrying off a bronze bust of Hirschfeld and all of his precious books. Nazi youth, women, and soldiers took part, the footage and its voiceover declaring the German state had committed &ldquothe intellectual garbage of the past&rdquo to the flames. Soon, a tower-like bonfire engulfed more than 20,000 books, some of them rare copies that helped to provide a historiography for nonconforming peoples they could never be replaced.
The Nazis also stole lists of clients, adding the names to &ldquopink lists&rdquo from which to poach homosexuals for concentration camps. Levy-Lenz, who like Hirschfeld was Jewish, fled Germany to escape execution&mdashbut in a dark twist, his colleague Erwin Gohrbrandt, with whom he had performed so many supportive operations, joined the Luftwaffe and would later contribute to grim experiments in the Dachau concentration camp. Hirschfeld&rsquos likeness would be reproduced on Nazi propaganda as the worst of offenders, both Jewish and homosexual, all that the Nazis would stamp out in their bid to produce the perfect heteronormative Aryan race.
In the immediate aftermath of the Nazi raid, Karl Geise joined Hirschfeld and his protege Li Shiu Tong, a young medical student, in Paris. The three would continue living together as partners and colleagues with hopes of rebuilding the institute, until the growing threat of Nazi occupation once more required them to flee. Hirschfeld died of a sudden stroke in 1935 while still on the run. Giese committed suicide in 1938&mdashand Hirschfeld's protgege Li Shiu Tong would abandon his hopes of opening an institute in Hong Kong for a life of obscurity abroad.
Their history had been effectively erased&mdashso effectively, in fact, that though the newsreels still exist, and the pictures of the burning library are often reproduced, few know they feature the world&rsquos first trans clinic. The Nazi ideal had been based upon white, cishet (that is, cisgender and heterosexual) masculinity masquerading as genetic superiority. Any who strayed were considered as depraved, immoral, worthy of death. What began as a project of &ldquoprotecting&rdquo German youth and raising healthy families had been turned, under Hitler, into a mechanism for genocide.
A NOTE FOR THE FUTURE
The story of Hirschfeld&rsquos institute at once inspires hope and pride for an LGBTQ+ history that might have been, and could still be. It simultaneously sounds a warning. Current legislation, and indeed calls even to separate trans children from supportive parents, bear striking resemblance to those terrible campaigns against so-labeled &ldquoaberrant&rdquo lives. Studies have shown that supportive hormone therapy, accessed at an early age, lowers rates of suicide among trans youth&mdashbut there are those who, counter to Hirschfeld, refuse to believe that trans identity is something you can be &ldquoborn with.&rdquo Richard Dawkins was recently stripped of his &ldquohumanist of the year&rdquo award for comments comparing trans people to Rachel Dolezal, a civil rights activist who posed as a Black woman, as though gender transition was a kind of duplicity. His comments come on the heels of yet more legislation in Florida banning transgender athletes from participating in sports, and an Arkansas bill denying transgender children and teens supportive care.
The future doesn&rsquot always guarantee social progress. Hirschfeld&rsquos Institute for Sexual Research, with its trans-supportive community of care, ought to have provided a firm platform to build a future that indeed thought of &ldquosexual intermediaries&rdquo in &ldquomore just terms.&rdquo But these pioneers and their heroic sacrifices help to provide a sense of hope&mdashand of history&mdashfor LGBTQ+ communities worldwide. May we learn the lessons of history, because where we go from here is up to us.
The sinking of RMS Titanic, a trans-Atlantic passenger liner owned and operated by the White Star Line, occurred in the early hours of April 15, 1912 while the ship was on its maiden voyage from Southampton, United Kingdom, to New York City, United States. The sinking was caused by a collision with an iceberg in the North Atlantic some 700 nautical miles east of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Over 1500 passengers and crew died, with some 710 survivors in Titanic ' s lifeboats rescued by RMS Carpathia a short time later. There was initially some confusion in both the USA and the UK over the extent of the disaster, with some newspapers at first reporting that the ship and the passengers and crew were safe. By the time Carpathia reached New York, it had become clear that Titanic, reputed to be unsinkable, had sunk and many had died. Official inquiries were set up in both countries to investigate the circumstances of the disaster. 
When news of the disaster reached Senator William Alden Smith, he saw an opportunity to establish an inquiry to investigate marine safety issues. Smith, who was a Republican Senator for Michigan, had previously investigated railroad safety issues and had sponsored many of the safety and operating regulations passed by Congress to govern the operations of the American rail industry.  He realized the need for rapid action if a US inquiry was to be possible before the surviving passengers and crew dispersed and returned home. He first attempted to contact US President William Howard Taft, but was told by the President's secretary that no action was intended. 
Despite this, Smith took the initiative and on April 17, 1912 he addressed the Senate and proposed a resolution that would grant the Committee on Commerce powers to establish a hearing to investigate the sinking. Smith's resolution passed, and fellow Senator Knute Nelson, chair of the Commerce Committee, appointed Smith as chair of a subcommittee to carry out the hearings. The following day Smith met with President Taft, who had just received the news that his friend and military advisor Archibald Butt was not on the list of survivors. Taft and Smith arranged additional measures related to the inquiry, including a naval escort for Carpathia to ensure no-one left the ship before it docked. 
That afternoon, Smith, fellow senator and subcommittee member Francis G. Newlands, and other officials, traveled by train to New York, planning to arrive in time to meet Carpathia as it docked on the evening of 18 April 1912. It was already known that J. Bruce Ismay, chairman and managing director of White Star Line, had survived, and the intention was to serve subpoenas on Ismay and the surviving officers and crew, requiring them to remain in the United States and give testimony at the inquiry.  Smith and his colleagues boarded Carpathia and informed Ismay that he would be required to testify before the subcommittee the following morning. The hearings began on 19 April 1912 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, and later moved to Washington, D.C., where they were held in the Russell Senate Office Building. 
Seven senators served on the subcommittee, with three Republicans and three Democrats in addition to Smith as chair. The other six senators were Jonathan Bourne (Republican, Oregon), Theodore E. Burton (Republican, Ohio), Duncan U. Fletcher (Democrat, Florida), Francis G. Newlands (Democrat, Nevada), George Clement Perkins (Republican, California), and Furnifold McLendel Simmons (Democrat, North Carolina).  The composition of the subcommittee was carefully chosen to represent the conservative, moderate and liberal wings of the two parties. 
Questioning was carried out by various members of the committee at different times, rather than all seven senators being present at all times. However, the work of the committee was very much dominated by Smith, who personally conducted the questioning of all of the key witnesses.  This caused some tension among the members of the committee and made him a number of enemies, as it was interpreted as an attempt to seize the limelight. It resulted in some members of the committee only attending the hearings infrequently as there was little for them to do. 
During 18 days of official investigations (punctuated by recesses), testimony was recorded from over 80 witnesses. These included surviving passengers and crew members, as well as captains and crew members of other ships in the vicinity, expert witnesses, and various officials and others involved in receiving and transmitting the news of the disaster. The evidence submitted varied from spoken testimony and questioning, to the deposition of correspondence and affidavits. Subjects covered included the ice warnings received, the inadequate (but legal) number of lifeboats, the handling of the ship and its speed, Titanic ' s distress calls, and the handling of the evacuation of the ship. 
Surviving officials, crew and passengers who were questioned or provided evidence included J. Bruce Ismay (who was the first to be questioned)  the most senior surviving officer, Charles Lightoller (Second Officer on Titanic)  the lookout who sounded the alarm, Frederick Fleet  the surviving wireless operator, Harold Bride  and first-class passenger Archibald Gracie IV.  Those that testified from among the captains and crew of other ships included Arthur Rostron (Captain of Carpathia),  Harold Cottam (wireless operator on Carpathia),  Stanley Lord (Captain of SS Californian),  and Herbert Haddock (Captain of RMS Olympic).  Expert witnesses, speaking or corresponding on subjects such as radio communications, iceberg formation, and newspaper reporting, included Guglielmo Marconi (Chairman of the Marconi Company),  George Otis Smith (Director of the United States Geological Survey),  and Melville Elijah Stone (General Manager of the Associated Press). 
Others called to give testimony included Phillip A. S. Franklin, Vice President of International Mercantile Marine Co., the shipping consortium headed by J. P. Morgan that controlled White Star Line.  The inquiry concluded with Smith visiting Titanic ' s sister ship Olympic in port in New York on 25 May 1912, where he interviewed some members of the crew and inspected the ship's system of watertight doors and bulkheads, which was identical to that of Titanic. 
The final report was presented to the United States Senate on May 28, 1912. It was nineteen pages long, with 44 pages of exhibits, and summarised 1,145 pages of testimony and affidavits.  Its recommendations, along with those of the British inquiry that concluded on 3 July 1912, led to many changes in safety practices following the disaster. The report's key findings were:
- A lack of emergency preparations had left Titanic ' s passengers and crew in "a state of absolute unpreparedness", and the evacuation had been chaotic: "No general alarm was given, no ship's officers formally assembled, no orderly routine was attempted or organized system of safety begun."
- The ship's safety and life-saving equipment had not been properly tested.
- Titanic ' s Captain Edward Smith had shown an "indifference to danger [that] was one of the direct and contributing causes of this unnecessary tragedy."
- The lack of lifeboats was the fault of the British Board of Trade, "to whose laxity of regulation and hasty inspection the world is largely indebted for this awful tragedy."
- The SS Californian had been "much nearer [to Titanic] than the captain is willing to admit" and the British Government should take "drastic action" against him for his actions.
- J. Bruce Ismay had not ordered Captain Smith to put on extra speed, but Ismay's presence on board may have contributed to the captain's decision to do so.
- Third-class passengers had not been prevented from reaching the lifeboats, but had in many cases not realised until it was too late that the ship was sinking. 
The report was strongly critical of established seafaring practices and the roles that Titanic ' s builders, owners, officers and crew had played in contributing to the disaster. It highlighted the arrogance and complacency that had been prevalent aboard the ship and more generally in the shipping industry and the British Board of Trade.  However, it did not find IMM or the White Star Line negligent under existing maritime laws, as they had merely followed standard practice, and the disaster could thus only be categorised as an "act of God". 
Senator Smith made a number of recommendations for new regulations to be imposed on passenger vessels wishing to use American ports:
- Ships should slow down on entering areas known to have drifting ice and should post extra lookouts.
- Navigational messages should be brought promptly to the bridge and disseminated as required.
- There should be enough lifeboats for all on board.
- All ships equipped with wireless sets should maintain communications at all times of the day and night. 
- New regulations were needed to govern the use of radiotelegraphy.
- Adequate boat drills were to be carried out for passengers.
- Rockets should only be fired by ships at sea as distress signals, and not for any other purposes. 
The presentation of the US report was accompanied by two speeches, one from Smith and one from Senator Isidor Rayner (Democrat, Maryland).  Towards the end of his speech, Smith declared:
The calamity through which we have just passed has left traces of sorrow everywhere hearts have been broken and deep anguish unexpressed art will typify with master hand its lavish contribution to the sea soldiers of state and masters of trade will receive the homage which is their honest due hills will be cleft in search of marble white enough to symbolize these heroic deeds, and, where kinship is the only tie that binds the lowly to the humble home bereft of son or mother or father, little groups of kinsfolk will recount, around the kitchen fire, the traits of human sympathy in those who went down with the ship. These are choice pictures in the treasure house of the affections, but even these will sometime fade the sea is the place permanently to honor our dead this should be the occasion for a new birth of vigilance, and future generations must accord to this event a crowning motive for better things. 
Rayner's closing words drew applause from the assembled Senators:
The sounds of that awe-inspiring requiem that vibrated o'er the ocean have been drowned in the waters of the deep, the instruments that gave them birth are silenced as the harps were silenced on the willow tree, but if the melody that was rehearsed could only reverberate through this land "Nearer, My God, to Thee," and its echoes could be heard in these halls of legislation, and at every place where our rulers and representatives pass judgment and enact and administer laws, and at every home and fireside, from the mansions of the rich to the huts and hovels of the poor, and if we could be made to feel that there is a divine law of obedience and of adjustment, and of compensation that should demand our allegiance, far above the laws that we formulate in this presence, then, from the gloom of these fearful hours we shall pass into the dawn of a higher service and of a better day, and then, Mr. President, the lives that went down upon this fated night did not go down in vain. 
Smith proposed three pieces of legislation: a joint resolution with the House of Representatives to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Captain Rostron of the Carpathia a bill to re-evaluate existing maritime legislation and another joint resolution to establish a commission to enquire into the laws and regulations on the construction and equipment of maritime vessels.  The report's recommendations on the regulation of wireless telegraphy were implemented in the form of the Radio Act of 1912, which mandated that all radio stations in the US be licensed by the federal government, as well as mandating that seagoing vessels continuously monitor distress frequencies. The existing Wireless Ship Act of 1910 was also amended to add new regulations governing how wireless telegraphy aboard ships was to be managed. 
The inquiry was heavily criticised in Britain, both for its conduct and for Smith's style of questioning, which on one occasion saw him asking Titanic ' s Fifth Officer Harold Lowe what an iceberg was made of (Lowe's response was "Ice, I suppose, sir"). Even though Titanic was (indirectly) owned by an American consortium, International Mercantile Marine, the inquiry was seen as an attack on the British shipping industry and an affront to British honor. The subcommittee was criticized for having the audacity to subpoena British subjects while Smith himself was ridiculed for his apparent naiveté. He became the butt of music-hall jokes and was given the nickname of "Watertight" Smith. London's leading music-hall venue, the Hippodrome, offered him $50,000 to perform there on stage on any subject he liked (an offer that was not taken up) and the press mocked Smith relentlessly as a fool, an ignoramus and an ass.   One satirical song of the time went:
I'm Senator Smith of the USA,
Senator Smith, that's me!
A big bug in the enquiry way,
Senator Smith, that's me!
You're fixed right up if you infer
I'm a cuss of a cast-iron character.
When I says that a thing has got ter be,
That thing's as good as done, d'yer see?
I'm going to ask questions and find out some
If I sit right here till kingdom come –
Senator Smith of the USA. 
Many newspapers published scathing editorial cartoons depicting Smith in unflattering terms, such as the Irish cartoonist David Wilson's illustration of "The Importance of being Earnest", published by The Graphic. Such views crossed party and class divides. The Morning Post asserted that "a schoolboy would blush at Mr. Smith's ignorance" while the Daily Mirror denounced him for having "made himself ridiculous in the eyes of British seamen. British seamen know something about ships. Senator Smith does not."  The Graphic claimed that the Senator had "set the whole world laughing by the appalling ignorance betrayed by [his] questions."  The Daily Telegraph suggested that the inquiry was fatally flawed by employing non-experts, which had "effectively illustrated the inability of the lay mind to grasp the problem of marine navigation."  Similar concerns were expressed by the Daily Mail, which complained that "it has no technical knowledge, and its proceedings . show a want of familiarity with nautical matters and with the sea", and by the Evening Standard, which criticized the inquiry for being "as expert in investigating marine matters as a country magistrate's bench might have been." Smith's own antecedents attracted ridicule the Daily Express called him "a backwoodsman from Michigan", which the newspaper characterized as a state "populated by kangaroos and by cowboys with an intimate acquaintance of prairie schooners as the only kind of boat".  His closing speech to the Senate came in for particularly harsh criticism from the British press, which termed it "bombastic", "grotesque" and "a violent, unreasoning diatribe." 
The British government was also hostile towards the inquiry. Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, spoke of his contempt for the way the senator had put the blame in a "denunciatory" fashion on the inadequate regulations implemented by the British Board of Trade. The British Ambassador to the United States, James Bryce, demanded that President Taft should dissolve the committee and refused to recognise its jurisdiction. 
Some British writers, however, applauded the inquiry. G. K. Chesterton contrasted the American objective of maximum openness with what he called Britain's "national evil", which he described as being to "hush everything up it is to damp everything down it is to leave the great affair unfinished, to leave every enormous question unanswered." He argued that "it does not much matter whether Senator Smith knows the facts what matters is whether he is really trying to find them out."  The Review of Reviews, whose founder William Stead was among the victims of the disaster, declared: "We prefer the ignorance of Senator Smith to the knowledge of Mr. Ismay. Experts have told us the Titanic was unsinkable – we prefer ignorance to such knowledge!" 
The American reaction was also generally positive. The New York Herald published a supportive editorial commenting: "'Nothing has been more sympathetic, more gentle in its highest sense than the conduct of the inquiry by the Senate committee, and yet self-complacent moguls in England call this impertinent . This country intends to find out why so many American lives were wasted by the incompetency of British seamen, and why women and children were sent to their deaths while so many British crew have been saved."  The American press welcomed Smith's findings and accepted his recommendations, commending the senator for establishing the key facts of the disaster. 
Since the ocean liner Titanic sank on its maiden or first voyage, there are very few original pictures of the ship in existence. Most of the photographs that do exist were taken in the Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, while the ship was under construction. There is one that shows the new ocean liner entering the port of Southampton, England with the help of tugboats, several weeks before the ship was to take on passengers. There are also a few taken of the huge new ship as it cleared that port on its maiden voyage on 10 April 1912 with a full load of passengers. The Smithsonian owns one of the last of these photographs, showing the starboard or right side of the ship against the wharf. The wave at the bow of the vessel indicates that it is already picking up speed, as it readies for the open ocean.
Carpathia, the ship that rescued the Titanic survivors
Both the British and the Americans held formal inquiries and hearings on the Titanic loss. The investigations revealed that although several vessels heard Titanic's distress call and one was closer even than Carpathia when the call went out, only Carpathia responded in time to rescue survivors. As a result, Carpathia saved more than 700 Titanic passengers. The ships that returned to the area of the wreck site later only found bodies and debris from the Titanic that had floated up from the depths.
The Beginnings of the Model Minority
Asian American activism is often overlooked in America, overshadowed by the model minority myth and stereotypes associated with it. The term “model minorities” was first used by William Peterson in his 1960’s New York Times article, discussing the upward mobility of Japanese Americans within the American society. Although the term “model minority” was coined in the 60’s, over time the meaning of the term has broadened and began to refer to Asian Americans as a homogeneous group.
At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first-century mainstream media has been labeling Asian Americans as “model minorities,” which perpetuated many stereotypes about Asian Americans that are well know today.
Take for example the stereotype that Asian Americans are quite rule followers. Although there are several documented instances in American history where Asian Americans mobilized to fight against social injustices, many Americans are not aware of these particular cases because of the lack of attention mainstream media and school curriculum in America allot to these issues. Many cases such as the infamous Vincent Chin case are not taught or even mentioned in school until students take an ethics studies class at a university.
With that said the mission of the site is: To educate the public about Asian American activism and break false notions of the model minority myth stereotypes.
Ellis, Antonio L. “Nicholas D. Hartlep. The Model
Minority Stereotype: Demystifying Asian
American Success. Information Age
(ISBN9781623963583).” Studies on Asia 4.2
(2014): 108-114. Proquest. Web. 11 Sep. 2017.
Park, Jerry Z., and Brandon C. Martinez. “Young
Elite Asian Americans and the Model
Minority Stereotype: The Nativity Effect.”
Studies on Asia 4.1 (2014): 78-107.
Proquest. Web. 15 Sep. 2017.
Wang, Chenyu. “Images of “Model Minority” in
Print Media and the Inclusion and Exclusion
of Asian-Americans.” New Waves-Educational
Research & Development 17.2 (2014): 25-44.
Proquest. Web. 12 Sep. 2017.
*All works cited on this site will be noted in MLA format, aligned to margins of a phone webpage
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How The Forgotten Story Of Titanic’s Chinese Survivors Has Modern-Day Implications
It’s been 107 years since RMS Titanic sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, rendering the early hours of 15 April 1912 one of the most fateful of modern history. The ship’s ill-fated maiden journey has grasped the attention of artists, filmmakers, historians and naval enthusiasts throughout the past century, most iconically in James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster which transformed the tragedy into the biggest romantic epic of recent memory. We all know the standard narrative – the lack of necessary lifeboats, the tremendous loss of over 1,500 lives (predominantly of third-class and male), and the many jet-setters and famous socialites who were on the ship, several of whom also did not survive. Nevertheless, there is one detail from Titanic’s history which has been erased from popular consciousness, and has only recently re-emerged – the story of its six Chinese passengers’ survival and subsequent rejection and deportation from the United States. As this month marks the anniversary of the ship’s tragic sinking, bringing this story back to the limelight is not only important for the purpose of historical accuracy, but also for sake of self-reflection in our current world which is becoming increasingly intolerant, divided and unwelcoming.
Out of Titanic’s eight recorded Chinese passengers – Lee Bing, Fang Lang, Chang Chip, Ah Lam, Chung Foo, Ling Hee, Lee Ling and Len Lam – the first six survived. They were travelling in third class from Southampton, and while there is little information on their identity, they are believed to have come from Taishan in the southeastern Guangdong Province.
Their treatment throughout and after Titanic’s rescue process, however, was nothing short of disgraceful. While five of the passengers managed to board a lifeboat, one, believed to have been Fang Lang, was one of the very few who survived the freezing water. It is reported that, upon the arrival of lifeboat 14, Officer Harold Lowe was reticent to save him, or the “Jap” as he derogatorily termed him. His rescue from the water was even briefly re-created by Cameron, although it did not make the film’s final cut.
Upon arrival to the United States, worse was to await the six. While most of Titanic’s other 700 survivors, predominantly white and of European descent, were given a hero’s welcome, the Chinese survivors were immediately shipped off to Ellis Island, being referred to by the American press as “creatures”. In accordance with the US’ anti-Chinese immigration policy, exemplified in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and 1892 Geary Act, they were forcibly deported from the country.
Their story went largely unnoticed in subsequent decades, and has only recently been brought to light, in part by the effort of researcher Steven Schwankert and filmmaker Arthur Jones, who’ve worked on transforming the men’s experience into a documentary film, The Six. Unsurprisingly, most people would react to this account with shock and indignation – how is it that the survivors of one of the worst naval tragedies of all time would be treated in such an inhumane manner? And yet, the story of “the six” is just as much a part of 1912 as it is of 2019.
We live in a world where rampant poverty, climate change, conflicts and persecution have been forcing people to migrate, either to escape as refugees or in the hope of building a better life abroad. The reaction from all of us living in the West has been to view this phenomenon with increasing hostility, scapegoating immigrants for all of the longstanding political problems in our home countries and resorting to xenophobic, racist rhetoric in the process. Under Donald Trump’s administration in the US, families have been separated at the southern border and children literally caged the Windrush scandal in the UK has seen the illicit deportation of long-standing British citizens of Caribbean descent while Italian far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini ordered the blocking of a vessel carrying immigrants from Africa.
Many people on the left defend immigration by arguing that we need foreigners to perform the jobs locals don’t want or to keep the West’s population growth stable, but even these arguments fall prey to a more subtle, innocuous form of racism, perceiving immigrants as political objects rather than human beings. Seeing the hardships which refugees and other immigrants endure in their home countries, and the perilously arduous journeys they undertake to find a new home, I ask myself where has our compassion gone? If the story of Titanic’s six shocks us, then so too should our despicable treatment of immigrants in the West today. It is time for all of us to set aside our political differences for a moment and remind ourselves that beneath this all, we are dealing with the lives of people.
The Nazi Titanic
In its heyday during the 1920s and ’30s the Hamburg-based ocean liner Cap Arcona was one of the most recognizable ships in the world. Built between July 21, 1926 and October 29, 1927, the 676-foot-long ship was modeled, in large part, on the ill-fated HMS Titanic, setting new standards in terms of luxury and engineering. So it’s no surprise that on its maiden voyage&mdashto South America in November 1927, the first of ninety-one transatlantic crossings&mdashthe passenger manifest was filled with people from moneyed families around the world, with American actor Clark Gable among the most recognizable names on board. Or that the Cap Arcona would soon earn the nickname “Queen of the South Atlantic,” owing to its status as the largest and most celebrated ocean liner traveling to and from South America.
But when World War II broke out the Cap Arcona was commandeered by the German navy and utilized as a floating barracks. Then, in 1942, it was cast as the “star” of an epic, big budget propaganda film, Titanic&mdasha movie commissioned by German minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels&mdashhence the nickname the Nazi Titanic. Though the ship was near-perfect for its role in Titanic, the film&mdashboth the production process and the final product&mdashwas a colossal failure in the eyes of Goebbels, hardly what he had in mind when he authorized a budget of four million reichsmarks (roughly $180 million in today’s dollars), making it the most expensive movie made to date. More notably, still, Titanic ended the career&mdashand life&mdashof director Herbert Selpin, who died under very suspicious circumstances while in the custody of the Gestapo after a tense face-to-face meeting with Goebbels.
But the story doesn’t end there. Near the end of the war the Cap Arcona was utilized as an evacuation ship and floating concentration camp. And when the Nazis realized the war was all but lost, they devised a plan to scuttle the ship with the prisoners aboard. But they didn’t get the chance, as the liner was mistakenly bombed by the Royal Air Force. In the recent book “The Nazi Titanic” (DaCapo), author Robert P. Watson tells the life story of the Cap Arcona, from its construction at the Blohm+Voss shipyards to the day it capsized and burned in the Bay of Lübeck in the southwestern Baltic Sea. In the following Failure Interview, Watson explains why British pilots accidentally bombed the ship and why the tragedy of the Cap Arcona&mdashnot to mention Herbert Selpin’s Titanic (1943)&mdashhave largely been forgotten by history.
Why isn’t the Cap Arcona tragedy better remembered?
A couple things: Days earlier Adolf Hitler committed suicide, and just days afterward came VE Day&mdashthe end of the war in Europe. So it was sandwiched between these two momentous events that sucked up all the media coverage. Second, as soon as the war ended [in Europe], all eyes were focused on Japan. We had the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then you had the looming, pending crisis of millions of displaced people throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. So people were distracted by other things.
But the main reason we missed the story is because the British sealed the records. It appears that they were so embarrassed by this event&mdashperhaps the worst example of friendly fire in world history&mdashthat they sealed the records in the basement of their national archives. Scholars and veterans of the war didn’t know where the documents were, and didn’t make the kind of requests necessary to get access to them.
Who built the Cap Arcona and was it modeled after Titanic?
It was built by a German company named Blohm+Voss, which is still in business today and one of the world’s greatest ship builders. And it was operated by Hamburg-South America, which is known as Hamburg Süd, which is also still in business. They modeled the ship after Titanic, though they put more lifeboats on the Cap Arcona and it had a much stronger hull. They also made it to look [similar to] Titanic, although there is a one funnel difference in terms of the smokestacks. The two ships were also similar in opulence. Wealthy families from Argentina to Canada, not to mention monarchs from Europe&mdasha real Who’s Who&mdashsailed on the Cap Arcona.
But when World War II broke out, all German all ships were commandeered by the Kriegsmarine. The Cap Arcona was sent to the Polish coast in 1939 after the Nazis invaded Poland and it was used as a floating barracks and naval training platform, rusting away during the war.
Then in 1942 it was spruced up and played the role of Titanic in director Herbert Selpin’s movie. I understand the filmmakers didn’t plan to utilize a real ocean liner until it became clear that the sinking scenes would not look realistic without a full-size ship.
They had their best model makers make models of Titanic, but the scenes didn’t look realistic enough. At one point Selpin requested that Germany build a replica of Titanic. Then it dawned on the Nazis that they already had a ship that could star in the movie.
Towards the end of the war the Cap Arcona was used to evacuate soldiers and civilians, right?
It had two roles at the end of the war. The first was Operation Hannibal. While the Red Army was marching from the east, Admiral Karl Brennans sent ships to the Polish coast and loaded them up with over two million soldiers and civilians and raced them across the southern Baltic into Nazi occupied territory. Cap Arcona was one of these ships. These must have been harrowing missions because there were Russian submarines sitting in the Baltic waiting for them.
And then at the end of the war Cap Arcona became, in effect, a floating concentration camp?
In March 1945 Hitler informed Heimlich Himmler and Goebbels that they had to “destroy the concentration camps and their inmates rather than allow them to fall into enemy hands.” The following month Himmler released his own decree. It read “To all Commanders of concentration camps. There will be no surrender. The camp has to be evacuated immediately. No prisoner may fall into the hands of the enemy alive.” Meanwhile, Himmler concocted a plan to move tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors. He couldn’t move them south, east, or west, because the Allies were coming. The only place not overrun yet was north-central Germany. What he wanted to do was to give the prisoners to Dwight Eisenhower and Bernard Montgomery in exchange for his own life and the possibility of a separate negotiated surrender on the western front so the Nazis could move their troops to the eastern front and fight the Russians. Prisoners were first moved to Neuengamme, near Hamburg, in north-central Germany, and from there they were marched sixty kilometers north to the Baltic coast.
There were thousands of concentration camp survivors at the port [where the Cap Arcona and other ships were anchored] and there was little food or water so prisoners were dying by the dozens or hundreds a day. There were also thousands of prisoners aboard the Cap Arcona who had little food and water. That’s when the Nazis recognized that the British were only days away from overwhelming the coast and decided to load as many prisoners as they could aboard the ship before sinking it. That way they would kill all the prisoners, like Hitler wanted, and deny the Allies from getting the Cap Arcona. But before they could scuttle the ship British planes bombed it.
Why did they make that mistake?
Anyone would recognize the difference between an ocean liner and a warship but there had been rumors swirling that the Nazis were going to try to make a run for it and make one last stand. The most obvious scenario would be that they would load everyone up on ships and flee to Norway. The Nazis still held Norway, and the geographic isolation&mdashthe mountains, the deep fjords, the cold winters&mdashwould make Norway the perfect place to dig in. The British had seen U-boats fleeing to Norway, so the pilots may have felt that the Cap Arcona was set to transport soldiers.
History of Titanic
The Titanic wreckage remains on the seabed, but since its discovery in 1985 thousands of artefacts have been recovered and put on display in museums around the world. In April 2012, global Titanic centurial celebrations will take place around the world, including numerous events,exhibitions and celebrations across Ireland, and anyone lucky enough to be on vacation in Ireland during 2012 or who decided to take a honeymoon in Ireland in 2012, were able to enjoy some of the fantastic Titanic 2012 Events that took place in areas such as Belfast, renown for being the destination that the Titanic was built, or in Cobh, Titanic&rsquos last port of call!
Here is a brief history to Titanic and why she has such strong allegiances with Ireland.
RMS Titanic, the famous passenger liner that sank on her maiden voyage on the 15th April 1912 following her collision with an iceberg the night before. The North Atlantic Ocean disaster claimed the lives of 1,514 people and is one of the most devastating maritime disasters in history.
The Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time of her maiden voyage and carried 2,224 people on that maiden voyage from Southampton on 10th April 1912. Her destination was New York City, America but her last port of call was at Cobh (Queenstown), Ireland on 11th April 1912.
Built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff shipyard during 1909 &ndash 1911, for the British Shipping Company White Star Line, the RMS Titanic was one of three Olympic Class ocean liners commissioned by White Star Line. Shipbuilders Harland and Wolff, were given much free reign in designing ships for White Star Line, thanks to their long established relationship and the usual approach was for White Star Line to provided a general concept to which Harland and Wolff would create into a ship design. At this time, regards for cost were low priority and Harland and Wolff was given the go ahead to spend what was needed to produce the Olympic Class ships
The Olympic Class ship designs were overseen by Lord Pirrie, a director of both Harland and Wolff and the White Star Line Thomas Andrews, a naval architect and the managing director of Harland and Wolff&rsquos design department Edward Wilding, who was responsible for calculating the ship&rsquos design, stability and trim and Alexander Carlisle, the shipyard&rsquos chief draughtsman and general manger.
Following the sign off and approval of the ships design, Harland and Wolff were authorised to the start the construction of Olympic Class Ships, the first ship to be built was Harland and Wolff&rsquos four hundredth and was simple called &ldquoNumber 400&rdquo but would later become known as Olympic, the second ship to be built, based on a revised version of the same design, give the name &ldquoNumber 401&rdquo was Titanic.
Designed to be the epitome of style, comfort and luxury and including an onboard gymnasium, swimming pool, libraries and exquisite restaurants and cabins, as well as a powerful wireless telegraph system for the convenience of passengers (as well as for operational use), it is not surprising to hear that the passengers aboard Titanic included some of the wealthiest people in the world. Although it is worth noting that there was also well over a thousand emigrants from Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia onboard too &ndash all seeking a new life in North America.
Though the Titanic had advances safety features, due to outdated maritime safety regulations she lacked enough lifeboats to accommodate all onboard passengers in fact she carried only enough lifeboats for 1,178 people, which was just a third of her total crew and passenger capacity.
Following the collision with an iceberg, passengers and some crew members were evacuated in lifeboats, many of which were launched only partly filled. Due to protocol &ldquowomen and children first&rdquo a disproportionate number of men, which included over 90% of men from second class, were left onboard. When Titanic finally broke up with over a thousand people still on board, those in the water, immersed in the freezing ocean died within minutes from hypothermia and some hours later the 710 survivors were taken aboard from the lifeboats by the RMS Carpathia.
The Titanic disaster provoked global shock and there was outrage at the large number of lives lost and the regulation and operation failures that had caused it. Following the disaster there was public enquiries in Britain and the US, leading to major improvements in maritime safety, the most significant being the establishment of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which still governs maritime safety today.
A look into the future?
The plot of Morgan Robertson’s The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility outlines the maiden voyage of a British liner the SS Titan which in the book is deemed to be unsinkable and thus did not carry a sufficient number of lifeboats for all of its passengers. During its maiden voyage in April, SS Titan hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and as a result of the lack of lifeboats on board, led to the death of most of its passengers.
Robertson’s novella draws many similarities between the fictional SS Titan and the RMS Titanic. The book mentions the ship’s perceived “unsinkable” attribute that many assigned to it due to the advanced technology used to construct it, an attribute shared by the RMS Titanic. It is also predicted that because of this perceived attribute, less-than-usual safety precautions were taken when equipping the ship with safety equipment mainly manifesting through the lack of lifeboats.
The exact month as well as the location of the crash is even predicted with both the fictional SS Titan and RMS Titanic sinking during their maiden voyage in April in the North Atlantic as a result of an iceberg. Even the size is mentioned and is quite similar with the fictional SS Titan measuring 244m whereas the RMS Titanic measured 269m.
Forgotten Faces of Titanic: The Widener Family
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.
On the night of April 14, the family had attended a party that they held in honor of Titanic’ s captain, E.J. Smith.
“George Dunton Widener Sr.” Find A Grave, 28 Sept. 2005, www.findagrave.com/memorial/11841844/george-dunton-widener.
“Eleanor Elkins Widener .” Wikipedia, 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Elkins_Widener. “Harry Elkins Widener .” Harvard Gazette, 5 Apr. 2012, news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/04/as-result-of-titanics-sinking-widener-library-rose/.
The Titanic was only four days into its maiden voyage before tragedy befell the ship. After striking the iceberg, the ship began to sink, and the Wideners left the dining area and made their way to the top deck. There, Eleanor and her maidservant were placed in a lifeboat by her husband and son. George and Harry Widener, along with their manservant, were among those lost when the ship sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912.
Eleanor and other passengers were rescued by RMS Carpathia and reached their intended destination of New York City. From there, Eleanor returned home to Philadelphia and devoted her time and effort to charitable causes. One of her efforts paid tribute to the son she lost. Eleanor donated money and Harry’s extensive book collection, thus establishing The Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at his alma mater, Harvard University. The library opened in 1915.
Detroit Publishing Co., Publisher. Harry E. Widener Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. United States Cambridge Massachusetts, None. [Between 1914 and 1920] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2016814160/ Eleanor married Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice in 1915, an explorer and geographer. She joined Rice on many trips to South America, Europe, and Asia. Eleanor died on July 13, 1937, in Paris, France, at the age of 76.
Titanic -- Bernie Palmer's Story
In 1900, the Eastman Kodak Company came out with the handheld box camera known as the &ldquoBrownie.&rdquo An immediate hit, more than 100,000 were sold in its first year. Canadian Bernice "Bernie" Palmer received a Kodak Brownie box camera, either for Christmas 1911 or for her birthday on January 10th, 1912.
In early April, Bernie and her mother boarded the Cunard liner Carpathia in New York, for a Mediterranean cruise. Carpathia had scarcely cleared New York, when it received a distress call from the White Star liner Titanic on 14 April. It raced to the scene of the sinking and managed to rescue over 700 survivors from the icy North Atlantic. With her new camera, Bernice took pictures of the iceberg that sliced open the Titanic&rsquos hull below the waterline and also took snapshots of some of the Titanic survivors.
Lacking enough food to feed both the paying passengers and Titanic survivors, the Carpathia turned around and headed back to New York to land the survivors. The captain of the Titanic's rescue ship Carpathia imposed a news blackout on all communications from his ship until all of the Titanic survivors had disembarked from his ship in New York. The demand for stories was unparalleled, and journalists swarmed Carpathia looking for firsthand accounts of the shipwreck and rescue.
An unnamed newsman for Underwood & Underwood, a New York photography agency, scored one of the most valuable scoops when he met Bernice Palmer onboard the Carpathia. She had taken pictures not only of the Titanic survivors on Carpathia's deck she also had photos of the actual iceberg that sank Titanic. The newsman offered to develop, print and return the pictures to Bernie, along with $10.00. Not realizing the extraordinary value of her photos, Bernie readily agreed, and Underwood and Underwood obtained unique images of the Titanic shipwreck for a pittance. This is the contract between Bernie and the U&U newsman transferring rights to the pictures. In 1986, Bernie gave her camera, Titanic photographs, and other associated materials to the Smithsonian.