Difficulties with societies


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Jun 16, 2003
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When I was putting my book together I naturally contacted a number of Titanic societies world wide. I was already a member of some of them while others I was calling on 'cold'. The response was very interesting. One American society would not even answer my letters (and I was a member!!) while one slightly closer to home - though still over the water (just) - has never answered ANY of my letters to date. (I am still a member of that one though Lord knows why?!)

It grieves me to think that in a 'society' some members are almost blacklisted (for no apparent reason) and yet the organisation is more than happy to take your money. 'It's mine and you're not having it!' is a common type of response when asking about Titanic information. Why is this? Is it financial? If so then it is rather sad isn't it?

However, those societies that did help were VERY accommodating and I have much to thank them for. They have been credited in the book. Interestingly, some of the most helpful people were ones I met on this website. What does that say about other official Titanic societies I wonder?

What do other people think about this?
 
Sep 26, 1999
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I think that the people who run these societies have full time jobs like most of us do that limits the time that they have sometimes to answer all letters. I have always been very satisfied with the Titanic Historical Society. Any time I have ever written the society a letter, I have always gotten a response. I don't know a whole lot about the THS, but I do know that the society depends some on volunteer work.
 
Jul 12, 2003
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When societies such as these are manned by volunteers, it can take a long time for a response...especially since the people may not work 9-5, five days a week, for the socieity. I've written to many genealogy sites and have gotten responses...though some did take a long time. But, be patient, just because you haven't gotten a quick response doesn't mean you won't.

Anthony, you mentioned a book so I am guessing that you want to include info you get from a society into the book. I know you said something about crediting people who have replied.

Did you tell all the societies that you planned on putting their info in a book? There may be copyright issues involved for example.

If you wrote to them, are you sure they got the letter? Try again. Can't hurt.
happy.gif
 
Jun 16, 2003
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I am fully aware that many societies are manned by volunteers who (like me) have full time jobs. However, let me refer back to my post. I did not name any particular society above Darren. In addition, I rather think four years is a long time to wait for a reply don't you from ANY society! (And still waiting...)

Deborah - any society who aided me in my research was informed prior to publication and fully credited. Brian Ticehurst of the BTS was particularly helpful and I thank him again for that.

Furthermore, on every occasion I sent an SAE to save costs for each society and still had nothing back. Also, I feel strongly that a society should support its members otherwise how will it run?. Even a standard letter is better than nothing don't you think?
 
Sep 26, 1999
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Anthony, I did not imply that you were speaking of the Titanic Historical Society. I was only telling you about my experiences with the one I have been a member of for 9 years.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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"…'It's mine and you're not having it!' is a common type of response when asking about Titanic information. Why is this? Is it financial? If so then it is rather sad isn't it? …"

Hi, Anthony. Your point is well taken and the problem is one that many researchers have encountered. I am assuming you were asking the societies for information or images from their archives? Some organizations do not share material outside of a "select" group of researchers and writers, and while I don’t think this is how a historical group should operate, they sometimes have valid reasons for not wanting to participate in projects. For instance, I know that one society loaned photos to a writer who did not return them for a year or more. In another situation that was related to me by an organization head, a publisher used illustrations without crediting the organization.

This of course does not excuse a society or archive or other public institution from failing to respond to a legitimate, reasonable inquiry. A simple statement that the society is unable to contribute to the proposed project is preferable to ignoring a researcher’s request for assistance. Many times, a small group does not have the manpower to search files or engage in extensive correspondence, and that’s understandable, however disappointing.

From my personal experience, I’ve found that, when writing to contacts, it’s helpful to mention the names of organizations and individuals that are already involved in my project. This almost always works because it proves your project is viable; it is also, frankly, an exercise in snob appeal, as all big names want to rub elbows with other big names. Also, when an inquiry or request goes unanswered after a month or more, sending another letter with a copy of the original one often helps to get a proper answer.

This does not always work, of course; there are some contacts that will just slip through the cracks and a researcher will just have to work around them.

You brought up "black listing" and that’s a valid issue as well, if not for societies, then certainly for individual researchers or "cliques" of researchers; the liner community is rife with them. Most of these folk are harmless, hard-working researchers who just happen to be overly protective of their work and are therefore fearful of collaboration. There are some cliques, though, that function on paranoia, jealousy and gossip and love to exclude those who have offended some unwritten, selective code of ethics. Meantime their members engage in backbiting, hypocrisy, and all manner of underhanded ruse to discredit rivals. These "invitation only" groups are losing their power to wound these days, thankfully, as so many people have become aware of their tactics. More and more, the rule of the game is sharing the fruit of your labor, not sitting on it, giving credit where credit is due, instead of seeking personal glory, and building friendships that cross "political" lines, instead of creating insular, feudal clans.

"…Interestingly, some of the most helpful people were ones I met on this website. What does that say about other official Titanic societies I wonder?…"

That is a very apt observation. ET represents the new order of research and dissemination of data, and it also represents a whole new way of interacting with fellow members who aren’t tied to a specific ideology. Some ET members have turned online communication into successful off-line friendships, even happy romantic relationships That’s not to say there aren’t definite chasms here as far as friendships go; many that began here have flourished, others have dissolved, some have never developed for whatever reason. But for the most part there is mutual respect and courteousness, even among those whose off-line relationships have been fractured.

The generosity of ET members, and their openness and honesty (even when it hurts), is indeed a good model for any group to emulate.

Best wishes to you for your book, Anthony, and in your continued research.

Randy
 
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sharon rutman

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I couldn't agree more Randy--for once you and I are in tandem. Worse still--I notice in many Titanic groups there is no new blood to pick up Titanic's story as membership in alot of groups is aging. Are we the last of the line? will interest in the Titanic eventually go kaput?
 
Feb 9, 2006
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I keep hearing about people on hear being interested in Titanic since they were like six years old. I mean, I knew the general story when I was like ten, but I was 18 and it was this year when I became a Titanic nerd.

There are some youngish people on these boards I think, Sharon. Even I figure I count, and there are those younger than I. I have hopes it will continue. At least if human society doesn't implode soon.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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I actually expect interest to pick up as the 100 year anniversary approaches. There seem to be a lot of younger faces here on this board, and a few new books out by distinctly younger talents lately-which is all very reassuring. I doubt Titanic will ever go unnoticed in the future, although I might add that now all survivors with memories are gone, we will have to rely on documentation left behind. I am counting on good archiving taking place all around the world of this material.
 
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sharon rutman

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That's all very well and good Lucy but do you belong to any Titanic organizations. That's a key issue--organizations desperately need new blood to stay afloat. Shelly--of course they'll be alot of new Titanic interest for the centennial in 2012--milestone anniversaries usually generate a great deal of attention and publicity. Any clue as to what's going to happen after 20l3? The crystal ball is a little murky after that.
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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I don't know about this forum, but the titanic-titanic forum is frequented by many people aged under 25. Some are quite a bit under 25. There's a thread on the age of the members and I seem to be the oldest. Maybe in this digital age internet activities will largely replace traditional clubs.
 
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sharon rutman

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One problem with the Titanic is that it's a very static subject--either it's very very hot or cold. There doesn't seem to be any happy middle ground to this problem. Either you're completely gung-ho or ice cold about RMS Titanic.
 
Feb 9, 2006
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I was thinking of joining the Titanic Historical Society, Sharon. I would like to but I am totally broke at the moment. And I really want to go to England and see Southampton and other places. Those are my first monetary priorities. When I have a job though, I shall be happy to join.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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" Maybe in this digital age internet activities will largely replace traditional clubs."

You just said a mouthful Dave! Before PCs and mega websites, we all depended on books and lectures. Now we can have the whole passenger and crew list and bios on a CD! It is a very different ball game now. I counted 17 Titanic Societies in the world yesterday, some regional groups. So, yes, absolutely, I can see one day when our journals will go electronic instead of snailmail, fewer conventions, societies having conventions together, and huge websites. One must adapt and change or go extinct.
 
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sharon rutman

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Titanic organizations, in general, are very protective and territorial. They have to be handled with kid gloves. Criticize an organization and you're toast. Enough said. This is just a general observation--please don't start sharpening the knives and scalpels.
 
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sharon rutman

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I'm surprised this thread exists in the first place--we all need various Titanic societies for research purposes. Antagonizing or criticizing them opens the door to retaliation. Just a thought.
 
Jan 7, 2002
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Though many lifelong friendships have been forged in the Titanic community, there is a great deal of bad blood in the titanic world as well- TIS is more or less a splinter group of THS, and there is bad blood and many severed friendships there- there is tension within BTS- I have met members of one group who wouldnt even shake hands with a person if they belonged to a rival group. In the end its frail human egos, and not the titanic that is the issue...

BUT if you think there is animosity between Titanic groups, try exploring the sci fi scene sometime. There are rival Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who groups, that have thier own world of politics.
I'm an avid Trekkie (not a Trekker), but I know Trekers who would look down on you if you don't know the mechanics on how to modify a deflector shield to emit an inverse tacheon pulse...
I'm an avid Whovian, and in in one Doctor Who fan group, members of which openly hate a 'rival' Doctor who group..What foolishness...Thats why I stopped going to
sci-fi conventions long ago...
I think though the most politics ridden group of all is the american civil War community- there are rival appreciation groups, many rivalries, etc...I'm not referimg to the Union vs the rebel crowd- but afficinados who compete on who can be most 'hardcore' into the topic, and see thier brethern civil war buffs not as brethern, but as rivals...
I have seen the same thing in the Titanic community, where some Titanic buffs feel threatened when encountering another Titanic buff who is more knowlegable- I welcome meeting buffs who know more than me- Thats how I learn, and learning about titanic will take a lifetime..
I really think the Titanic book "Down on the Old Canoe" succeeded in examining the world of Titanicdom and the politics therin, and adressed a darker side not all of us are willing to confront..Some Titanic buffs were deeply offended by that book because they felt the author put the Titanic community under a microscope- But i applauded the author for doing that, and much of what he wrote needed to be said...
If you encounter sourpusses in the Titanic, sci fi or Civil war communities the reason for thier unfriendliness could be simple- the sourpuss feels Titanic is thier turf, and not yours, hence thier becomming crabby or unfriendy....
Chalk it up to thier insecurities.Sad, but its a common thing...
regards


Tarn Stephanos
 
Jan 7, 2002
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One thing I have noticed about ET is that there are people here from all all corners of the globe, and all the respective Titanic groups, and by and large we all coexist on ET with mutal respect and friendlness.
I think online sites such as ET surpass the printed Titanic journals in that ET allows every voice to be heard, as well as a variety of opnions. Printed Titanic journals may be biased to present only thier own point of view, at the exclusion of all others, plus with finite space , thereis only so much that can be printed in a Titanic journal.....
....As much as I enjoy and collect the various titanic society journals, i see online forums such as ET as *the* definative forum for Titanic scholars.


regards


Tarn Stephanos
 
Jun 11, 2000
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I worked with a bloke once who was a member of the Sealed Knot, which is an English Civil War re-enactment group. He was a graphic designer during the week, but at weekends became Lord somebody-or-other, a historical person whose identity he had inhabited for years, clashing mightily on various windswept battlefields, to the mystification of the passers-by. It seemed a rather dangerous and expensive obsession. Not only did he have to buy and maintain hand-made battle kit (modified sort of half armour), and weaponry, but he also kept a charger. This was an enormous black beast with flaring nostrils and mad eyes, and very difficult to control. No doubt because it spent its weekdays browsing peacefully in a field, but was required to go to battle every Saturday. Over the years this guy had broken every limb and been stabbed a couple of times with a pike. I only went once to watch the totally incomprehensible melee. Things were made more difficult by the participants having to arrive at the right outcome for the battle - either a Royalist or Roundhead victory - but none of them were inclined to give an inch during the re-enactment, which led to the fight-coordinators rushing round shouting "Lose!" as twilight fell.

This bloke was on his third wife when I knew him, and he was only about 35. They all fell victim to the Sealed Knot widow syndrome, and he just gave them the house, got divorced, and found the next one who thought she might be willing to feed the horse, polish the weapons, and stand in a muddy field most of the weekend.

He always maintained they should have joined in, possibly as camp followers. I see from the website now that there is a category of player entitled Old Hag and since he would now be approaching 70, one might hazard a guess that wife no. 7 could now be fulfilling this role.

The society doesn't seem to be that political since I see it has now merged with other groups to form the Living History Society, which is rather nice, I think.

On the subject of Star Trek, I was once rather startled when my 25-year old nephew rose from the dinner table and announced he had to leave now as, tonight, he was Mr. Sulu, and he had to get into character. I glanced at my sister, who looked rather near to tears. Nothing was said, however, except "Have a good time, darling."

My own, anarchistic, children laugh at such ideas. But I don't know ....
 
Aug 29, 2000
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With all due respect , Tarn, to say TIS is a splinter group of THS does a great disservice to those of us who co-founded TIS and the organization. While it is true some of us had been, and continue to be members of THS, TIS from the beginning wanted a vastly broader view of transatlantic travel, other famous liners, modern cruise ships and non-Titanic-related material. I feel I can speak with some measure of credibility as a past president and a co-founder. TIS was formed in my livingroom in 1988 and after realizing most of us present got our start by interest in Titanic, indeed some of us met through THS, and shared a great obsession with that ship. It was for that reason we wanted Titanic in our name- and originally the group was T.I.- a play on the word "Ties"- referring to the liner interests which tied us together. Our slogan was "Researching the Liners of the World" and our logo was Titanic, United States and Normandie, created by Michael Ralph. Our first issue was devoted to the liner United States- not Titanic.

While a few of our original board may have had differences of opinion or personal issues with some people in THS, TIS was NOT a bunch of disgruntled people who spitefully decided to form a new group. The perpetuation of this MYTH has made for some very unhappy relations over the years. There are those who take a positive pleasure in fanning the flames for reasons unimaginable to me-and who are completely ignorant of the circumstances. There is room for more than one liner society in America, and of course each one is in some measure competitive to produce a good journal with the latest and most interesting ship news- and what is wrong with that? Would members expect anything less? Charlie Sachs and his fabulous Ship to Shore journal never came under the gun as a "splinter" organization.

The issue of salvage, artefact restoration, Dr. Ballard's stance and public statements, and other issues have reflected different ways of looking at issues between the two American societies. The aim of TIS has always been, if it is newsworthy, legitimate, and backed -up by research and experience-it gets printed. Opposing views also get printed when they are submitted. The society itself does not take sides on issues or make policy on behalf of its membership. The trustees are not even always in total agreement on controversial issues. The day it ceases to be a free-thinking organization, I will cease to affiliate myself with it.

By all means cut and paste this wherever you like, I have written this all before, both here and in Voyage. There is a great opportunity in Halifax in 2007 for all societies to come together for a common interest- and I hope we can finally get past this issue of "Hertz and Avis".
 
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