The Irish State recently acquired at auction some unique Lusitania items, including the original of the Saloon Berth List for the final, fatal voyage of May 1915.
This contains first and second class cabin allocations, basic addresses, and c/o contact details for people such as relatives or employers.
While the basic cabin allocations were included as redacted appendix to the book Lusitania: The Ship & Her Record, there follows at the end of this introduction the full document, transcribed at the National Library of Ireland while it was still being catalogued.
The auction lot comprising these items sold for a paltry €15,000 ($22,000 US; £10,000 Sterling) at the "Independence" sale in Dublin by Adam’s and Mealy’s auctioneers, held on April 15, 2008, coincidentally the 96th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Provenance was the estate of the late Carol Kennedy, a biographer and financial commentator, who acquired the originals directly from the Cunard Line in Liverpool many decades ago.
These are thus the original Cunard office documents relating to the voyage of the Lusitania from New York to Liverpool, which departed on May 1st 1915, under Captain W. T. Turner, RNR.
Among the lesser acquisitions in the same lot are deck plans of the quadruple-screw turbine steamer, with red ink markings dated November 21, 1914. These show that that some saloon accommodations were closed up for economy at this stage of the war, although they were later reopened.
More important is an original cargo manifest for the final voyage – especially in light of the various claims about that cargo, and what it might cover.
Eight typewritten double pages give details of the “Manifest of Local Cargo Shipped on Board of the Steamship ‘LUSITANIA’ (Voyage No. 101), Sailed From New York to Liverpool, May 1/15.”
There is also a grey book, a few copies of which survive in private hands, declared to be a “Record of Passengers and Crew” from the sinking, which is dated March 1, 1916.
This is the company’s final return of all passengers and crew, including identification of bodies recovered, their place of interment, names of relations, together with descriptions of the unidentified remains and recovered property. It is headed with the legend “Confidential: For Office Use Only,” and bound in linen.
But the jewel is the Berth List, consisting of six double-page ledger folios giving ticket numbers, names, addresses, berths allocated and destination. Added in pencil are the names of stewards, with annotations as to whether they were saved or lost. A limited number of passengers also have entries against their names indicating whether they survived or drowned.
There are mistakes, misspellings and omissions in the document. An occasional [sic] has been added here in transcription. Indications of whether a cabin was on the port or starboard side are also given as an addition, since left-hand or right-hand pages are used in the ledger for this purpose, and such an arrangement cannot otherwise be conveyed to the lay reader.