Exhumations Press Release


Philip Hind

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Sep 1, 1996
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News Release
Lakehead University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Recovering the Last of the Lost from the R.M.S. Titanic Disaster

(Halifax, N.S., May 16,2001) When the Titanic plunged under the North Atlantic waters in the early morning hours of April 15th, 1912, those held in the icy fingers of the ocean were quickly drained of life by the sub freezing waters, except for the 712 fortunate individuals in the open lifeboats. The lifeless forms drifted with the swell of the sea. Those in life jackets stayed afloat, while those without slowly and silently slid beneath the waves.

The disaster required the services of four vessels, contracted by the White Star Line, ILo recover the dead. The agonizing search lasted for nearly two months, April 17 - June 6th, resulting in a grim harvest of 328 bodies. Of these, 150 were buried in Halifax in one of three cemeteries, Forty-three of these remains are still not identified, The rest were either buried at sea, or claimed by family and shipped for burial elsewhere.

For some, the loss remains poignant and personal, even today. Such are the feelings of the second and third generations of individuals and families who lost a relative on that night. Three extended families hope to recover their dead by confirming their relationship to a specific unidentified victim, buried in the Titanic plot of the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by DNA analysis. Principal Investigator, Dr. Ryan Parr, Co-Director of the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, will lead the research team, Co-investigators are Dr. Scott I. Fairgrieve of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario and Mr. Alan Ruffman of Geomarine Associates Limited in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Based on a careful assessment of the coroner's records housed at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia and collaborative research between family members and the research team, a partial exhumation for sampling purposes has been requested for three graves: No. 281, No. 240, and No. 4. The proposed work has been screened by the Lakehead University Research Ethics Board to ensure that it conforms with the 1998 Tri-Council Statement for Research on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans and the 1999 supplement: Ethics Procedures and Guidelines for Research Involving Humans. Moreover, Ethical Conduct Forms from living relatives have been obtained. The full package of data has been submitted to the Medical Officer of Health for the Capital District Health Authority, Province of Nova Scotia (Dr. Robert Strang, MD, MHSC, FRCPC), for approval of each of the three partial exhumations.

In all aspects of the project, including the partial exhumations, the research team, is committed to respecting individual and family wishes of anonymity. The possible confirmation of the identify of these victims is very important to those involved to gain closure surrounding an aspect of their respective family histories which has eluded them for almost a century,

Applied Biosystems and the Northern Ontario Heritage Foundation Corporation have covered the project expenses.

The scientists will be available to speak to the media at a media conference on Friday May 18 at 7:00 p.m. (Atlantic time). The media conference will take place at the Lord Nelson Hotel, Admiral Room, 151 5 S. Park Street in Halifax.
For further information or to schedule an interview with the researchers, contact:
Nancy Angus, Lakehead University, 807-626-6499 (cell), 807-343-8372, nancy.angus@lakeheadu.ca
Paul de la Riva, Laurentian University, 70"90-8125 (cell), 705-675-1151 X 3406, pdelariva@nickel-laurentian-ca
Alan Ruffman, Geomarine Associates 902-422-6482

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

DNA Analyses

Mitochondrial DNA

Everyone inherits their mitochondria from their mother because mitochondria, the power plant of cells, are found outside the nucleus in the ovum. In comparison to the nucleus, mitochondria have a modest complement of DNA The order, or sequence of the four letters in the DNA alphabet (G,A,T,C), in a certain, short region of mitochondrial DNA spell out a specific maternal lineage, or maternal "family name." This pattern persists throuah many generations, and can be used in a genealogical sense to identify famly members through the family name written in the genetic sentences of mitochondrial DNA. Two of the unidentified individuals Nos. 4 and 281, have contemporary maternal relatives. In both instances, these relatives have, or are in the process of being typed for their maternal, family names for comparison to the maternal names of burials 4 and 281, if preservation of the burials permits adequate DNA recovery.

Nuclear DNA

Nuclear DINA is inherited from both mother and father, 23 chromosomes from each. In the case of burial No. 240 maternal relatives could not be found, Moreover, the resting place of the mother could not be located. The family requested a genetic comparison between the deceased father and the potential son (No. 240). Kinship in this potential father-son pair will be analyzed by means of chromosomal DNA markers as used for forensic identification and paternity testing to reconstruct so-called "genetic fingerprints" and evaluate the possibility of relatedness. Paternal information can be expected from analysis of similar genetic markers located on the sex-determining Y-chromosome. This chromosome is exclusively passed from a father to son. In case of paternity it should show identical genetic patterns for both individuals, just as mitochondrial DNA is identical through a maternal line. This comparison is also dependent upon the preservation of both father and son.

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PROJECT PERSONNEL AND DUTIES

DNA Analysis:

Dr. Ryan Parr, Principal Investigator
Co-Director of the Paleo-DNA Laboratory
Department of -Anthropology
Lakehead University
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Dr. J.E. Molto
Co-director Of the Paleo-DNA Laboratory
Department of Anthropology
Lakehead University
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Dr. Wera M. Schmerer
Department of Anthropology
Lakehead University
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Exhumation and Procurement of Tissue Samples:

Dr. Scott I. Fairgreve
Co-investisator
Director Of the Forensic Osteology Laboratory
Laurentian Univesiryty
Sudbury, Ontario

Ms. Tracy Oost
Manager of the Forensic Osteology Laboratory
Laurentian University
Sudbury, Ontario

Halifax based expert on RMS Titanic

Mr. Alan Ruffman
Co-Investizator
President, Geomarine Associates Limited
Halifax
Nova Scotia
Author of Titanic Pemembered: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax
Formac Pubfishing Company Limited (1999)

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Project Funding

Applied Biosystems
Mr. Omead Ostadan
Division Headquarters
850 Lincoln Centre Drive
Foster City, CA, U.S.A.

Northern Ontario Heritage Foundation Corporation
Rae Anne HorLey (Nortbem Development Advisor)
435 James Street South
Suite 312
Thunder Bay, Ontario

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Schedule

Thursday May 17

Tent up and area perimeter secured at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax Nova Scotia

Friday May 18

Partial exhumations of three burials (No. 281 (female), No. 240 (male), No. 4 (male))

The area surrounding the partial exhumations will be concealed from public view by a tent in order to preserve the dignity of the investigation.
A perimeter will be set up surrounding the tent, Security personnel will be present to control access to the site.

Partial exhumations to be conducted by cemetery personnel and the Director and Laboratory Manager of the Forensic Osteology Laboratory, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

Samples for DNA testing will be acquired during the partial exhumation procedure. Once samples have been acquired, the remains will be reburied in the same location.

Once the partial exhumations and sample acquisitions are complete, the scientists will be available at a media conference at 7.00 p.m. (Atlantic Time) on Friday May 18. The media conference will be held at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax.

The DNA samples will be transferred, to Drs. Parr and Molto for analysis at the, Paleo-DNA Laboratory, at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario

The results of the DNA analysis should be complete within 6 months, The results will be communicated to the families involved.

With the permission of the families the DNA results win be presented at academic Conferences, and then subsequently in appropriate academic peer-reviewed journals.

Reporting of the results to the scientific community will be conducted in such a way as to preserve the anonymity of the families involved in this project

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BACKGROUND ON R.M.S. TITANIC

Struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912,
Sank, at 2:20 a.m. on April 15.
Designed to carry 3,295 people (2,435 passengers and 860 crew).
Carried 2,209 passengers and crew on the night of the sinking
324 First Class passengers, 285 Second Class passengers, 709 Third Class passengers and 891 crew members.

Lifeboat capacity: 1,178

Number of survivors: 712 (according to Hermann Soldner’s (2000) Passenger and Crew List).
Number of victims: 1,497 (according to Soldner (2000).

209 bodies returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia by recovery vessels,

150 bodies buried in Halifax

121 in Fairview Lawn (non-denominational) Cemetery
10 in Baron De Hirsch(Jewish) Cemetery
19 in Mount Olivet (Catholic) Cemetery
59 bodies identified and returned to families from the morgue in Halifax
43 bodies of unidentified Titanic passengers and crew currently buried in Halifax cemeteries:
Fairview Lawn Cemetery 30
Baron De Hirsch Cemetery 8
Mount Olivet Cemetery 5
 

Philip Hind

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Sep 1, 1996
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Please excuse any errors in the transcription. I'm in a bit of a hurry. This will be my last post for a while as I will be in India on business all next week. I'm on a mission to introduce Chicken Tikka Masala to the people of New Delhi.

By the way this press release comes courtesy of Alan Ruffman.
 
Nov 22, 2000
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India eh! Try and get it back for the Empire whilst you are there Phil. Don't be trying to curry favour over there (pun intended!) Hope you don't succumb to "Dehli Belly".
 

Jan C. Nielsen

Senior Member
Dec 12, 1999
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Applied Biosystems is headquartered locally (Foster City is just south of South San Francisco). I emailed them and politely inquired about this project. We'll see if any response is forthcoming.
 

Philip Hind

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HALIFAX REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY
Communications Office
1841 Argyle Street
Post Office Box 1749
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada BJ 3A5

Tel (902) 490-6531
Fax (902) 490-4044

Media Advisory

(Wednesday, May 16/200 l) -- Various media reports today erroneously stated that Halifax
Regional Municipality has given the approval to exhume the remains of three unidentified
victims of the Titanic buried in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery.

For the record, an order to exhume remains must be signed by the Provincial Medical
Officer, in this case, Dr. Robert Strang. HRM, as owner of the Fairview Lawn Cemetery,
must comply with such orders, whether it involves remains buried yesterday or 100 years
ago. The responsibility of HRM in such cases is to ensure that the grave(s) is properly
opened and closed, following all relevant protocols; and further, to ensure that the
exhumation is carried out in a dignified and respectful manner and that no artifacts are
removed. As with all exhumations, it is paramount that the privacy of the families
involved be protected.

HRM has been advised that the DNA-sampling team involved in the exhumations of the
Titanic graves will hold a news conference in Halifax regarding the issue. Time and place
are TBA (to be announced) later.

All media inquiries regarding exhumation of victims of the Titanic buried in Fairview
Lawn Cemetery should be directed to Alan Ruffman, president of the Titanic Society (sic)
at 422-6482; Provincial Medical Officer Dr. Robert Strang at 481-5871; or Dr. Ryan
Parr, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Lakehead University,
Thunder Bay, Ontario, at (807) 343-8001
.

Any inquires regarding HRM's role in such exhumations should be directed to John
O'Brien, Corporate Communications Officer, at 490-6531
.
 

Philip Hind

Staff member
Member
Sep 1, 1996
1,749
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168
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Media Advisory

Titanic Research Team to Hold News Conference

(Wednesday, May 16/2001)-- An news conference to dicuss the exhumation of remains of three unidentified
victims of the Titanic buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery will be held on Friday, 7 p.m., in the Admiral
Room, Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax.

Members of the research team, led by Dr. Ryan Parr, co-director of the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead
University, Thunder Bay, are expected to be present at the news conference. Dr. Alan Ruffman, President of
Geomarine Associates Limited, of Halifax, is a co-investigator with the team.

An order to exhume the remains at three grave sites has been issued by Provincial Medical Officer, Dr.
-Robert Strang.

HRM, as owner of the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, must comply with the order and the graves in question will
be opened and closed by cemetery personnel. The grave sites will be enclosed in a tent while the DNA-
sampling takes place and security personnel will be stationed on site until the graves are closed.

It is HRM's responsibility to ensure that the graves are properly opened and closed, and that all relevant
protocols are followed. As with all exhumations, it is paramount that the privacy of the families involved be
protected.

All media inquiries regarding exhumation of victims of the Titanic buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery should
be directed to:

Alan Ruffman
Co-Investigator, President of Geomarine Associates Limited, of Halifax
(902) 422-6482

Dr. Ryan Parr
Principal Investigator, Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Anthropology
Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
(807) 343-8001

Dr. Robert Strang
Provincial Medical Officer
(902) 481-5871


Any inquires regarding HRM's role in such exhumations should be directed to:
John O'Brien
Corporate Communications Officer
(902)t 490-653 1.
 

Philip Hind

Staff member
Member
Sep 1, 1996
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Media Advisory

(Thursday, May 17, 2001) - Excavation of two of the three grave sites to be exhumed at Fairview
Lawn Cemetery will take place at 1:00 p.m. today. The media may wish to use this as a photo
opportunity. Once the grave sites have been excavated they will then be shrouded by a tent.

Members of the Forensic Team and HRM will not give media interviews inside the cemetery in
keeping with proper decorum. Any media interviews must take place at the Windsor Street
entrance to Fairview Lawn Cemetery. We ask members of the media to respect these requests.
 

Philip Hind

Staff member
Member
Sep 1, 1996
1,749
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168
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Media Advisory

(Friday, May 18, 2001) - The DNA sampling team will be on site this morning at the grave sites of the
three unidentified victims of the Titanic being exumed at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax.

Because of the nature of the work involved, team members and others involved in the project, will not be
responding to requests for media interviews until at least noon today. May 18th.


At that time, spokespersons for the qcientific team will be available for a scrum interview with members
of the media at the Titanic interpretation area, at the Chisholm Avenue entrance to the Fairview Lawn
Cemetery.


Members of the media are reminded that the remains from the three grave sites in question are NOT
being removed from the graves - only DNA samples will be obtained from the remains. It is the
intention of HRM and the project team not to disturb the grave sites and remains any more than is
necessary to obtain the samples.

Halifax Regional Municipality and members of the DNA investigative team thank members of the media
for their understanding and patience.
 

Philip Hind

Staff member
Member
Sep 1, 1996
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Media Advisory

Titanic Research Team News Conference - CANCELLED

(Friday, May 18, 2001) - Because of the large number of media outlets represented at the Titanic
grave partial exhumation this afternoon at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, members of the DNA
sampling team have cancelled their scheduled news conference for 7:00 p.m. this evening.

National, regional and local media representatives conducted interviews with members of the
DNA sampling team at their conclusion of the project this afternoon and agreed that there would
be no need for an evening news conference.

HRM and members of the DNA sampling team would like to thank members of the media for
their cooperation during the passed two days.
 

Philip Hind

Staff member
Member
Sep 1, 1996
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168
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News Release
Lakehead University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Titanic Research to Focus on No. 4

(Thunder Bay, May 19, 2001) Both families of unidentified Titanic victims No. 240 and No. 281 have
been notified, by members of the research team, that material suitable for DNA analysis was
unobtainable from either grave site. The investigation will focus on No. 4.

Contact: Nancy Angus, Lakehead University,. 807-343-8372 or 807-626-6499
 

Philip Hind

Staff member
Member
Sep 1, 1996
1,749
11
168
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I have updated the first message to include all the subsequent press releases relating to the exhumations at Fairview.
 
Nov 22, 2000
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Don't listen to him Phil - I'm not fit to be in charge of a group of pensioners let alone a web site! Ye gods Cook - imagine the mayhem!
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 27, 2000
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Sorry, O M, but for some reason all your posts showed up here as posted during the 'last day'. Go figure!
 
Nov 22, 2000
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Phil, Why do we put up with an old muddlehead such as Cook? He convinced me that you were going away again, I thought maybe your parole was up or something like?
 

Philip Hind

Staff member
Member
Sep 1, 1996
1,749
11
168
England
Not all of them, only the press releases. The message about the trip is from May. As I said, I added in the new press releases which is why they showed up in new messages. I did reorder things so all the releases were together.
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 27, 2000
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Geoff W. pleaded: "Phil, Why do we put up with an old muddlehead such as Cook?"

This is on HELLL of a way to speak of your own grandfather!!

By the way, Phil, IS your parole up?

Yours sincerely,
uh...wait a minute...I knew it a MINUTE ago...