by Delia

As I am sure you've seen in the news media, one of the most famous ship wrecks of all time occurred one hundred years ago tonight. Of course, the Titanic was famous even before it sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. It was one of the largest passenger ships at the time, and with all of its safety features, it was reported to be unsinkable. The various stories and legends of the event have been told and retold, and many of us have watched movies fictionalizing the event, including the 1958 "Night to Remember," based on the Walter Lord book of the same title. When the 1997 James Cameron movie came out, a number of people came into the department, asking to see the "Titanic passenger list."

First of all, the Titanic never made it to port in New York, so a passenger list was never submitted to US immigration authorities. Most of those who survived arrived on other ships, most notably the Carpathia. The bodies that were recovered were, for the most part, buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Feisty Rose, doomed Jack and evil fiance Cal from the movie "Titanic" were fictional, although, yes, we've been asked about them. Other figures in the movie were real, including "the unsinkable" Molly Brown, who survived; John Jacob Astor, who did not; and Ida Strauss, who declined to flee on a lifeboat, preferring to stay with her husband Isadore, one of the owners of Macy's Department Store.

There are many sources, both books and online, for research on Titanic passengers and accounts of the events of that night, or you can just get a box of tissues and watch one of the movies. Since this event combines popular culture with our own historical leanings, others can enjoy the movies in memory of the disaster, while we as genealogists will look further for the historical background.