Edith Russell Article An ET Research Plea


Jun 4, 2000
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Thanks Randy,
While I don't subscribe to the 'favourites' thing there are certainly passengers and crew members I find more interesting than others and Edith is most definitely on that list. What a woman she was - wit and elegance, and a good sense of humour that didn't shy away from herself as a target. Once again I mourn the loss of her memoirs....

Was she 'Edie' or 'Edy'? Enquiring minds'n'all that.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Daniel, Fiona, and Phil (sounds like a law firm!)

I don't post as frequently but am still here. And I too love Edith Russell's self-deprecating humor. She had a bad temper sometimes but mostly seems to have been big-hearted, fun-loving and open-minded; a real treat of a human being.

And her nickname was indeed spelled "Edy" (pronounced Ee-dee of course), at least according to letters to her from her editor M.D.C. Crawford and a few other early sources. I'm not sure whether this stuck in later years; MacQuitty calls her Edith and so did Walter Lord.

I call her Edy because it was used during her glory days and because - as slang then would have it - it's "snappy" or "jazzy" and therefore befitting the hoot she apparently was.

Randy
 
Jun 8, 2002
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Hello all.

"My fellow passengers looked at me with utter disgust."... "I spent three years of acute starvation [paying her debts from the loss of merchandise she carried on the "Titanic"]."

What a scream! Edith Russell was certainly a drama queen. But her use of the language and that perfectly modulated voice is enchanting, so I add my thanks to Randy Bigham for sharing that remarkable recording with us. I have the old LP of "Titanic" interviews sold years ago by the THS, and her high-drama remarks then were an endless source of amusement to me and my friends, but this BBC recording was new to me.

My best to Randy and all,
Doug
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Hi Doug,

I'm glad you're amused by "Edy," too. She's been a real pleasure to research. She was such a character. In fact, if you think she was a hoot as an old gal, you've got to read some of the early interviews and stories I've found. She could be a little tempest!

And thanks for your recent greeting sent via the ET forum. I had a reply ready but saw you have no email address posted on your profile. Suffice to say, I much look forward to meeting you and the Cooks next month - and seeing that rascal-of-leisure Phil again!

Randy
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Here are the slippers Edy wore on the fateful night. This photo was taken at least 10 years ago at Walter Lord's apartment and is a clear view out of the case of the little spool-heeled mules. I just found the photo-I should clean closets more often. (The original photo was taken by Michael Findlay-this is a cropped copy)
56938.jpg
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Thanks Shell for posting that. It's nice to finally see a good close-up of the shoes. In 1912 these slippers (or actually mules) had a paste buckle clip-on decorating the toes, one of which was lost as Edy boarded Boat 11. Apparently the other one was later lost, too.

These slippers and her famous music-box pig are headed to the Greenwich Museum if they are not there already.
 
Jun 4, 2000
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Oh my! In her mules and her hobble skirt it's almost a miracle she made it to a lifeboat. It's amazing she only lost a clip on buckle rather than the entire footwear. Thanks Shelley, what a treat - and thanks too, Randy, for the delightful detail on Ms Russell's ever so fashionable attire.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Hi Fiona,

I like your tag-line there. I can relate. I've had plenty of tea lately but not enough of the lie down!

Yes Edy's attire is fascinating. From studying the only picture I've been able to locate of the dress she wore the night of the disaster, it would appear to be a two-piece number made of a lustrous faille taffeta, in a dark color, with a high-waisted tunic surmounting a tightly draped skirt of a contrasting flat texture, probably cloth or wool. The bodice of the gown had jacket-like revers of white net-lace which also edged the long narrow sleeves. Both the bodice and the peplum were trimmed with decorative, jeweled buttons down the center front. The sash of the dress was finished at the left side with what appears to be a rosette or some other frilled ornament. Since many of Edy's dresses were designed by Madame Paquin, who gave her an enormous discount, and because the style is typical of that couturiere's work at this period, I am thinking it is a Paquin model.

As I mentioned, the skirt of this dress appears draped and caught up at one side. It's not the severely straight type commonly thought of as a "hobble" though its narrowness would still have necessitated small steps.

She was evidently in the very latest fashion, to judge from the last article she dispatched by cable from Paris to "Women's Wear Daily." It may be remembered by those familiar with Edy's story that she had originally planned to cross on an earlier ship than Titanic but had been asked by her editor to stay over to cover the fashions which the big-name designers would be exhibiting at the Auteuil races.

This report could have been her last. Here is an excerpt:

"Paris, April 5, 1912 - At the Auteuil races yesterday there were a number of good looking dresses. The tailor-made suit with contrasting jacket practically emanated from the brain of Paquin but Callot has now taken this idea up with full force - white satin skirts with black satin jackets, beige cloth jackets with black satin skirts, a brocaded jacket with a plain skirt.

Paquin sent a white cloth jacket worn with a blue taffeta skirt. A very attractive suit by Cheruit had the pannier skirt and a very short taffeta coat. The pannier is still generally worn, but I contrasted it with the draped skirts yesterday and my preference is for the latter.

One of the most attractive dresses that I saw was of blue charmeuse with buttons from the shoulder to the hem of the skirt which was cut in a semi-"V", showing the foot. This gown was from Doucet and was very simple but charming.

The day was rather chilly so the summer toilettes were not seen and a great many women were in furs. Hats were mostly black or dark blue, covered with aigrettes or paradise. Black charmeuse seemed to be the striking note. Whatever was elegant was in black charmeuse..."

(signed) EDITH L. ROSENBAUM

So declared the Elsa Klensch of 1912!

Cheers,
Randy
 
Mar 20, 2000
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On old Edy's birthday today, I thought it would be good to remind researchers that the items she left to Walter Lord are at the Greenwich Maritime Museum. As I understand it, Edy's material has been catalogued and is available for study. I am in touch now about permissions and hope to have word soon on what there may be of interest that I wasn't aware of already. I am hoping for some surprises!
 
T

Trent Pheifer

Guest
Hey Randy,

I would love to get a look at some of Edy's items she left Walter Lord..Are they going to do a display of Walter Lord collection at the museum? Also, do you know off hand what year Edith was born? Thanks

-Trent
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Hi Trent,

I have no idea if Edith Russell's things will be displayed. I hope so. I think Inger Sheil is heading out that way sometime soon so maybe she can let us know how the collection is being handled.

As to Edy's birth year. This is a question for Phil Gowan but I believe we are satisfied with the 1878 date. It seems the most plausible, even in light of Edy's misleading accounts. There is no extant birth record I understand.

It has been mentioned elsewhere that Edith Russell claimed to be 22 or 23 on Titanic. We know this is false. She was at least 32. I believe she was 33. Some documents (not official ones however) have her birth year as 1877, others 1879.

Randy
 
Mar 20, 2000
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The article on Edith Russell that I've been working on has finally developed into a small book-length story of 7 chapters. It may be too long to post as an ET Research Article but I'm hoping not. Also if the ADB is interested, they may have it to use in installments or as they wish.

I am putting finishing touches to the piece this weekend. But right now, I want to thank everybody who's helped me over the last 2 years on this project. Especially Jenni Atkinson, who as unofficial secretary to Edy in her last year, had fascinating memories to share. William MacQuitty had some very amusing reminiscences and my gratitude is extended to him as it is to the late Walter Lord and his assistant Lillian Pacifico.

George Behe made his treasure-trove of files and scrapbooks available to me and provided copies for me of taped interviews. Don Lynch shared material from his vast collection, provided many useful leads, and contributed personal anecdotes. Phil Gowan made many inquiries on my behalf as only this investigator could and let me use some of his passport photos of Edy. Brian Meister provided biographical data and finally solved the riddle of Edy's "nephew." Daniel Klistorner shared copies of official documents and transcripts. Inger Sheil introduced me to Jenni Atkinson, my most important contact source, and was a great sounding board and cheerleader as well as a veritable UK correspondent. Another major supporter has been Shelley Dziedzic with whom I've brain-stormed constantly about Edy and all my other "Titanic gals." So many others have provided special touches like Geoff Whitfield's insight into Edy's friendship with Ismay and Eric Sauder's impression of her famous but "ugly" pig.

To Tracy Smith, Kyrila Scully, Pat Winship, Kate Bortner and Kris Muhvic - thank you for your help and support. A great big special thanks to Phil Hind and ET - without them the collaboration that was essential to this project just wouldn't have happened.

I hope Edy's story will amuse and touch others as it has me. If it does, it'll be due to the input of many minds and hearts. I thank all of you.

Randy

PS) Also thanks to Madison Press for publishing for the first time since 1912 the picture of Edy in "Ghosts of the Abyss." It was her favorite photo of herself as a young woman.
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Randy!

Congratulations on completing your 'Edy Project!'

Since your manuscript has become book-length, have you considered approaching a publisher and actually *publishing* your work in book form? Plenty of us passenger researchers would love to have an authoritative volume about Miss Rosenbaum in our collections, and your book would definitely fit the bill.

I hope you'll think about it, old chap.

All my best,

George
 
Jun 8, 2002
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Hey, Randy!

I add my congratulations on the Edith Russell research project and look forward to seeing it in whatever publication or final form it takes. Your reputation for solid research and a highly entertaining writing style (no doubt due in part to your passion and affection for your subjects) ensure another hit.

Your fans await!

Warmest regards,

Doug
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Hurray! Great news to start the week- and I agree,Edy deserves a beautiful book complete with photos. Those working gals who had the grit and brains to make it in the business world of 1912 deserve top billing. And now -how about the divine Mrs. Harris?
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Hi everybody -

Re: an Edy book?

'Fraid not folks. At least at this time an article is about all I can manage. I'm still worrying about trying to get Lucile published, a constant up and down thing. But I really do thank you all for the kind comments.

Btw, got word from Hind The Great that he's ok with running the Edith Russell piece as an ET article which I appreciate much.

Cheers!

Randy

PS) Rene Harris is next, then Helen Candee and finally Dorothy Gibson and that probably will be the end of my foray into "Titanic Lady" bios.
 

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