Newspaper accounts of some reactions


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"Crazed by Wreck Talk" The New York Times
April 18,1912

Atlantic City, N.J., April 17.- Crazed by brooding over the Titanic disaster, Joseph Fisher of this city last night became violenty insane. He was taken to the County Asylum after a struggle with a half a dozen policemen.
Although Fisher had neither friends nor relatives aboard the wrecked liner, he eagerly read all the news concerning the deaths of the victims. He became violent as he discussed the failure of the life-saving outfit of the liner to rescue all the passengers. Physicians fear that he never will recover.
 
"Wreck Causes Rich Woman to Throw Self Into Ocean", The Denver Post
April 20,1912

Santa Monica, Cal., April 10.- The body of Mrs. M. U. Scuehler, said to have been a wealthy woman of St Louis, Mo., was found in the ocean here today. She had jumped to her death some time last night.
According to friends, Mrs. Scuehler was much affected by the accounts of the Titanic disaster, and it is believed that her mind gave way.
 
"Reads of Titanic Disaster; Crazed; Wades Into Lake", The Chicago Tribune
April 22, 1912

James O'Hara, formerly a bell boy at the Auditorium hotel and believed to have been mentally unbalanced by the reading of the Titanic disaster, marched out into the lake at the foot of Foster avenue yesterday afternoon, waving a long saber.
"No ship leaves the shore," he announced. "I am a-gonta stop these shipwrecks."
Patrolmen Ericson and Moyer started to wade into the icy water after him, but withdrew when the water rose over their shoes. They decoyed him ashore, then took him to the detention hospital.
 
"Hurt in Argument About the Titanic," The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 22, 1912

An argument over the sinking of the Titanic resulted in Martin Kistener, 32 years old, of 211 Miller street, going to the observation ward of the city hospital, where he was Monday, with a lacerated scalp.
Kistener says he was in the bootblack stand at Broadway and Merchant street Sunday, when he became involved in the argument. Another man, he says, hit him on the head with a beer bottle, remarking he would "show him how the iceberg sank the Titanic."
 
"He Was Driven Insane by the Titanic Tragedy," The Atlanta Constitution
April 23, 1912

Sharon, Pa., April 22.-John M. Smith, of Hickory Township, a former sailor, became violently insane last night after reading accounts of the disaster to the Titanic. Smith had walked several miles to get newspapers containing the news.
 
I

I. M. McVey

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Dear Jordan,

Thank you for posting these rather highly-colourful accounts. It is always interesting to read things from the 1912 papers, as it gives us a bit of flavour of the social times, and of what titillated the readership of the time -- be it overblown drama, pathos, or scandal.

I have a fair number of facsimiles of the 1912 Press and its reaction and handling of the 'Titanic' disaster, and there are two things I value these articles for: the insight into what 'caught' the popular mind (whether the story was true or no -- it really didn't seem to matter!), and how much bilge even a very highly-regarded newspaper of the time would print if they thought it would gain readers.

There was a much thinner line back then between what Americans call 'tabloid' or 'yellow' journalism and what would be considered 'respectible' journalism -- and it was not at all uncommon to see both species thriving on the same front page of a highly-regarded daily!

It is useful to a social historian to have these facsimiles, as the other, more mundane, articles surrounding the 'Titanic' ones flesh out what was important in the day (and the adverts themselves are priceless!), though I would stress extreme caution in trying to use these articles as sources (other than social) in 'Titanic' history. They are, for the most part, highly suspect, and usually do not bear up well under close scrutiny, especially when searching for real facts.

But as a measure of the times and the 'popular culture' -- ah, they're priceless! Thanks again for sharing these bits with us. I do hope, though, for the sakes of these poor folk mentioned, that these tales, like so much of the ones surrounding 'Titanic', were so much smoke up the stack...

Kind regards, Ilya M
 
The Los Angeles Examiner reported...

"THE TITANIC RIPPED ASUNDER FROM STEM TO STERN"

And how correct 1 Sept. 1985 proved them to be.

:)

Mike C.
 
Hmmmmmm...Mike, if you have the text of this artical available, we might be better able to critique it. If they were mooting the 300ft gash theory, we know now that notion at least was dead wrong. If they were going with the idea that the ship broke in two, then they got it right.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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