DNA testing of unknown Recovered Bodies

Kate Bortner

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May 17, 2001
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I saw an account on the Today Show that showed "scientists" excavating the graves of three bodies recovered from the Titanic. Apparently the first two that they dug up were too badly water damaged (duh!)to run any DNA test. The third was the small child. (possibly Ms. Paulsson's?) No word on whether tests are possible, yet. I find myself extremely conflicted upon hearing this. Especially since the first two cannot be tested. It is as if they are now forever "anonymous" AND their resting place was disrupted with no positive outcome. Haven't these souls been thru enough?! The TV account said that they're doing it to put the minds of the families at ease. And while I'm all for "closure", I cannot imagine that families are still putting off funerals OR holding out hope that their loved one is still out there on a raft somewhere. (that part was just a joke that amused me; not to be taken seriously or diminish my point)

On the other hand I'm all for science and morbidly interested to know who they are. Does anyone else have additional info. on this excavation or have any opinions on the morality or validity of the project.

Just wondering.
-kate bortner
 

Kate Bortner

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May 17, 2001
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Okay, now that i've posted (my first)discussion topic, i see that you all have already been talking about it. ooops. In my defense, I'm new to this site. AND I'm apparently a bit dense too. :)
Sorry to take up e-space, but I do appreciate all of your opinions I found on the other topic list.
You are all such interesting folk!
-Kate "day late and a dollar short" Bortner.
 
C

Christine Geyer

Guest
Hi Kate,

Just have a look at the thread Passenger Research > Exhumation of Titanic victims' bodies this week. There you'll find plenty of messages and opinions and a few more links to other reports about that.
happy.gif


Many regards
Christine
 
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patrick toms

Guest
kate bortner asks about morality,what morality is there in people who caused the death of innocent people on the titanic by gross negligence.
pat toms president shannon ulster titanic society
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>what morality is there in people who caused the death of innocent people on the titanic by gross negligence.<<

Since the moral issue here was disturbing the final resting place of the victims, I would think that your own question, however valid, is a seperate matter.
 

sally1976

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Apr 23, 2012
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DNA Testing

hello guys it is quite sad that there were many bodies that were recovered but never identified,I was left wondering why no form of DNA was taken ?? I assumed it was because of the era but I have come across an article stating :-1912 Physicist Sir William Henry Bragg, and his son, Sir William Lawrence Bragg, discover that they can deduce the atomic structure of crystals from their X-ray diffraction patterns. This scientific tool will be key in helping Watson and Crick determine DNA's structure.It must of been known that coroners would of been able to make identifications in years to come.Its a shame these poor people have been buried as just a number.What do you guys think ? xx
 

TimTurner

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Dec 11, 2012
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I expect that they're talking about DNA's structure - the double helix, not the ability to compare two DNA strands and determine if people are related, or to determine the identity of a particular person. I don't think that was discovered until the 1980's or so.
 

sally1976

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Apr 23, 2012
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It would certainly be amazing to be able to put a name rather than a number to these bodies and give them the recognition they deserve.I dont see how this would be possible now tim ?? the 3 bodies they dug up at halifax all them years ago were badly waterlogged they couldnt get no dna to examine and compare if i recall (but please do correct me if i'm wrong).How would identifying bodies be possible now through dna testing??It seems a really sad situation this may never happen,I would love to hear everybodys thoughts on this.Many thanks x
 

Doug Criner

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Dec 2, 2009
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If meaningful DNA could be recovered from the bodies, we would still need to obtain DNA samples from presumed descendants. In some famous cases, that might be possible. But, for many, 100 years might be a problem finding and sampling such descendants. Then, there is the cost of the DNA analysis - who pays for that?

And, if a match was found, then what? Put up a new grave marker with the victim's name? At whose expense, if the descendants are unwilling or unable?
 

Clarice DW

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Apr 14, 2013
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I hear you. I feel there should be no DNA on no bodies - especially on annonymous graves because you have no one who knows the deceased who can consent to the testing.
My own annoyance, mind you, is the Titanic video games on pc all around us. and the introduction to kids of the disaster. To me it's like having the kids interested in victims of some war, or those who died in famine or another shipwreack. I totally disagree With kids under age 18 to be introduced to the Titanic. It was a disaster it is a disaster and will always be so long People died on it. Perhaps their occupation on Olympic ship would be more acceptable. I feel most of us Titanic enthusiastics are well aware to WHAT it was all about. but selling to kids something that had to do With disaster - i will never understand this...

Nontheless like you I also want to know WHO the annonymous Titanic victims were . My friend in Southampton tells me YOU DO have records on anyone leave the ship from England that you can get via municipalities but you have to be signed as Historian to have Access to those files. There are list OF ALL those onboard Titanic and none was really annonymous. As well as Cunard-White Star Line might have info. I cannot think of anyone elso with Direct involvement

Clarice DW
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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The names and details of the Titanic's passengers and crew are freely available, as are the descriptions of the recovered bodies and their effects. You can find all this information right here on this website, for instance. Nevertheless it has not been possible to identify, with 100% certainty, every one of the bodies and it's not likely that very many more (if any) ever will be. How, for instance, could you possibly identify No 114, who was male, aged around 40, had dark hair and carried no effects. His clothing suggested that he was probably a fireman, in which case there were dozens of possibilities. In some cases there certainly was information that could, back in 1912, have led to further identifications had it been made publicly available especially in places like Southampton and Liverpool, where the families of most of the crew were living. Detailed descriptions of tattoos, for instance, jewelry, household bills, letters, even family photographs. But while the Canadian authorities took great care to record this information, the White Star Line did little or nothing to publicise it.

We need to consider also the attitudes of the families at the time. Men and women who earned their living at sea faced a constant risk of dying at sea, in which event their families did not expect to be attending a funeral or to know the precise resting places of those lost. Burial at sea was expected, even preferred by many. And if by chance a family member ended up in a grave in some far away country then it could never be visited. The final resting place was known, as they used to say, to God. And for many that was enough.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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My own annoyance, mind you, is the Titanic video games on pc all around us.
If it gets someone interested in Titanic, what's wrong with that?

To me it's like having the kids interested in victims of some war, or those who died in famine or another shipwreack. I totally disagree With kids under age 18 to be introduced to the Titanic.
Well the Titanic was neither war or famine, so you're comparing apples and pears. Most of us here if not all became interested in Titanic when we were younger, so you'll find that you are in the minority with that opinion. It's not as if the disaster is R rated or an adults only subject. Many kids under 18 (and I've met many) are interested in the ship which is great, since they are our future historians, researchers and authors. Children have been interested in Titanic for decades and that ain't gonna change. I don't see how being fascinated in something at ten years old for example that's a part of history, is a bad thing. Would you rather see more kids committing crimes, doing drugs and doing goodness knows what else than being fascinated with a disaster that occurred 102 years ago? When they are doing the former that's something to be annoyed about or when history is forgotten, but not when children are interested about studying a disaster...really.

Cunard-White Star Line
That name hasn't existed since 1950. It's just Cunard, which is owned by Carnival Corp.
 

Andrew R.

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Mar 12, 2019
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I know this is thread was started some time ago, however I was in Halifax in October of last year and while visiting Faiview Lawn Cemetery,unknown child took this picture of the unknown child mentioned by Ms. Bostner. The child was positively identified, and I was told that no other bodies would be exhumed there due to the difficulties in extracting viable DNA. At least Sidnrey Godwin's relatives now know he is in Halifax.
 

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Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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Over a hundred years on and the wee man just sums the whole sorry story up.

You could imagine either Fred or Augusta Goodwin with him in the sea desperately trying to hold him up clear of the freezing water until their strength just gave out.

Frustratingly if you look around the web there are still quite a few websites claiming that Eino Viljami Panula is The Unknown Child.

I do hope that the chief scientist who did the initial research (think it was for that documentary "Ghosts of the Titanic") and jumped the gun with his conclusions apologised fully to the Panula family for wrongly getting their hopes up ?

Have there been any attempts in the last few years by descendants to have unidentified victims exhumed for DNA testing ?
 

Andrew R.

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Mar 12, 2019
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I was told by our guide in Halifax that the decision was made not to disturb or test any more of the remain. Seeing all of the victims lined row after row really brought the tragedy home for me. Until then, I viewed it as a maritime disaster; an historical event marked by a couple of movies /documentaries I and my family had watched growing up. When I saw Young Sidney Goodwin's grave, I asked why there were two stones. Our guide told us that the crew of the rescue ship Mackay-Bennett were so deeply touched at finding this namelss little child that,rather than have his grave marked with the White Star's flat marker, these men pooled their hard earned money together and had the obelisk headstone made to honor this unknown child's short existence , perhaps in the hopes that he would not become lost and forgotten in the sea of nameless souls laid to rest all around him. When he was finally identified some 96 years later, the small marker was placed in front to show all that Sidney Goodwin will never be forgotten.
 

PRR5406

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After DNA testing, they're still gonna be dead. Let them rest unless there is a specific challenge.