Getting started with Titanic Research


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Nathan L. Casteel

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Hello I am wanting to start doing some research work on the R.M.S. Titanic and I know that I'll need a pen to write with and notebooks. Will I need to have anything else? Any answers will be accepted and appreciated thank you.
 
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Nathan L. Casteel

Guest
I know Phillip: I do and use my brain by the way. I was asking "Will I need anything else?" Like besides pens and notebooks & also a brain you know.
 
Jul 12, 2003
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I didn't know which would be the best place to ask this question, so I will start here....is there a topic that specifically deals with books on the Titanic? It seems there are so many out there and it would be nice to have one place where people could list books they have read and maybe recommend certain ones. Is there a place that lists the books outside of the discussion boards?
 

Philip Hind

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So you already have a brain, a pen and a piece of paper. No, I don't think you will need anything else. Good luck and be sure to let us know what you come up with.
 
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Nathan L. Casteel

Guest
Philip I was asking if I needed anything else that I need to have before I started to do work on this research. If you have anything let me know.

Peace,

Nathan
 
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Nathan L. Casteel

Guest
Does anyone have any ideas if I need anything else? Suggestions needed
 
Jul 12, 2003
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I am not sure what you are doing Nathan...but maybe you should get a bunch of folders to organize your research topics before finally putting it together...like one for the White Star Line itself, one about the ship's conception/construction, etc.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Bear in mind that newspaper accounts were then (as now) often inaccurate and sensationalised, but there are compilations available in book form, for example:

'The Titanic Disaster as reported in the British National Press April-July 1912' - Dave Bryceson.
'Extra Titanic. The Story of the Disaster in the Newspapers of the Day' - Eric Caren & Steve Goldman.

You might also like to try one of the pot-boiler books which appeared very soon after the disaster back in 1912 and were basically drawn from newspaper accounts of the time. Here's one which you can read online:

http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/titanic.htm
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Herman Melville summed up the requirements for an author in Moby Dick. "Time, strength, cash and patience."

Anybody who expects to achieve something new in this field will need all four, especially the cash. Hunting though old newspapers and documents and copying them is a costly exercise. Have a look at the cost of the gallery assembled by Phil Gowan and Brian Meister and generously added to this site. Then look at the work and time involved. It's not easy to do anything new and original.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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I would echo what others have said here and especially Daves's comment that it's not easy to come up with something new. There are plenty of people who can write, but to make a success of it you need to have something to write about, and that's the hard part! So I would say this to all would-be writers - first learn research skills, then get experience in analysis of data and the sifting of facts from speculation, rumour and wishful thinking. Finally, develop the all-important 'jigsaw' skill of assembling a cohesive whole from a multitude of parts.

Don't be too ambitious with your first efforts - by all means aspire to writing the definitive and complete history of the Titanic disaster when you have more experience (and more time), but make a start with something more manageable. If your main interest is people, for instance, find out all you can about one family or one group (the teenage lift attendants, for instance, or passengers who had links with your own State or County). But make sure you are researching a group about whom little is known. Of course it's a lot easier to choose people about whom a lot has been written, but that would be missing the point of the exercise.

If your own researches deliver enough information and you're satisfied that it's both accurate and original, write a feature which can be 'published' at no cost on a website like this one. Learn from the responses and feedback that you get from your first efforts. Every great enterprise must start from small beginnings.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Good points, Bob, but just one thing: It might not cost the writer anyting to get published if Phil H accepts an article for publication here on ET, but it costs Phil! He's the one who foots the bill for running the site.

In terms of practical equipment for research, I can't recommend a laptop enough. Most archives these days accept them and have facilities to allow their use. You can get by without one, but it infinitely assists your work, saves time and hand strain with transcribing, and money on photocopying. Often you'll come across documents that you are not permitted to copy due to the age and condition of the item, and it makes life an awful lot easier if you don't have to go through laborious hand transcriptions.

I'd also recommend strong headache medication for use when ploughing through microfilm! (There's nothing quite like the headache a day with this equipment will give you).

When you visit an archive, always have a clear idea of what you're after when you go there. Don't just go in floundering around hopeing to turn up 'something.' Be as specific as possible. Once you've looked into it, you may find other avenues have turned up, and a bit of 'fishing' on spec. can also be productive, but have a direction to start with.

When interviewing people who had family involved in the disaster, do them the courtesy of finding out as much about their relative as you can before you conduct the interview. The best relationships I've established have been with people who were aware that my interest in their relative involved in the wreck was absolutely sincere and specifically focused, not just a general thing, and I'd taken the trouble to find out something about them...even if it's some basic genealogical data, career information, etc. Quite a lot of material is in the public domain if you know where to look.

In addition to publishing on websites, Titanic society journals are also keen on publishing original research - this is another possible avenue for establishing your reputation and for turning up new material that may help your larger project.

Deborah, Bob's suggestions are good ones regarding accessible reprints of newspaper accounts. Of course, these are just a small sampling of the media coverage, limited to two nations - it would be impossible to compile all the international print media stories in one or two sources! You may find that your local library, or the nearest large library, has holdings on microfilm that go back to 1912 and give you a local angle (this is a good way of turning up previously unpublished material on local figures). The British Newspaper Library at Colindale has a wonderful collection of British and foreign newspapers, and is one of my favourite archives.
 
Jul 12, 2003
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Lots of good points and ideas from everyone...so I don't know if my idea will be of equal value but here it is...wherever you gather your verified info from, perhaps in exchange for the cost of research/documents, etc. you can offer a special acknowledgment in your book
 
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Nathan L. Casteel

Guest
Well I am getting ready to go to Wal Mart tonight & get some notebooks. Then after I fill it all up with research info & I'll update you as soon as it is done.
 
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Nathan L. Casteel

Guest
Hello everyone I'd like for everyone to know that I have got my notebook & my first prioritie is getting information about the construction of the Titanic.
 

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