Questions for Experts


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Mar 12, 2007
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i am hoping to be able to interview (thru email) a Titanic expert, possibly even robert ballard himself, but i would also appreciate it if anyone on here who considers themself a Titanic expert could take the time to answer these question for me. this is a school project but first and foremost this is just for my learning experience, so i'd love to see you guy's answers to these questions. thanks
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Questions:
1. How did you first get interested in the Titanic?



2. When did you decided to make a career out of your interest, and how did you go about that?



3. Did you choose a major in college with the intent of using it to pursue a career involving the Titanic?



4. What educational background would you recommend for someone interested in learning more about the subject, and/or hoping to someday make a career in the historical and writing side of the Titanic?



5. Who do you consider the leading authorities of the Titanic to be?




6. Can you suggest any ways that someone interested in the Titanic could be involved in researching or in some way working for a Titanic expert during college?



7. What books and resources for learning more about the Titanic would you suggest?



8. How do you feel about the salvage rights issues that are in the news lately?



9. What path would you suggest for someone interested in having a career involving the Titanic; not so much the scientific and oceanography aspects of it, but mostly the historical side of it?



10. What are some careers that can incorporate an interest in the Titanic into? For example, a historian, an underwater explorer, ect.
 
Feb 23, 2007
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Emmy, Forget about Robert Ballard. I met him and his interest in the Titanic only extended to the promotion of his underwater exploration. I met him at his lecture in Akron and any time anyone asked about the Titanic he would try to skirt the issue. He may have felt something at the time but it seemed to me that whatever those feelings were they were fleeting. I took my Dad with me to meet him and we had a semi private meeting with him and he was very curt with us.
I thought he might have been a bit more cordial considering that my Grandfather was a survivor.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Oh that never made much of an impression on him. I hate to dreg this up again, but Dr. Ballard once turned his back on Marshall Drew, three months before Marshall died at one of Ballard's slide shows at URI. Marshall was so excited to meet him (he was a photographer and artist) and waited after the show, we approached one of the honcho entourage and set up an introduction. Dr. B shook his hand absently and asked what class he was on the ship and then said he had to move along. The poor old man was plenty hurt and baffled as to why he got short shrift. The story was there was a reception and "people" were waiting. I think Marshall would have been the hit of the party! After all- he had vivid memories of the sinking, was an enchanting speaker, and the life of any party, should he have been invited -not to mention a nice photo op for Ballard. It was Dr. Ballard's loss. But I will never forget it, and I know how you feel, Tom.

Barbara McDermott, Lusitania survivor is also still waiting for a friendly card or note after her request and address was given to Ballard back in 2003.

Admirers of Dr. B, please do not send me hate mail- what happened in both cases is the simple truth- and there were witnesses.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>How did you first get interested in the Titanic?<<

Read "A Night To Remember." Been hooked ever since.

>>When did you decided to make a career out of your interest, and how did you go about that?<<

It's really not a career. The fact is that Titanic occupies an extremely narrow field of interest and it's not likely anybody can really make a career out of it. Even the most noted authors and historians in the field have to hold down regular jobs or engage in other fields of research if they want to be able to afford minor luxuries like food, shelter and clothing.

>>Did you choose a major in college with the intent of using it to pursue a career involving the Titanic?<<

Nope. I'm just a retired sailor and I work at Lowe's for a living these days. Any research I persue is on my own time and my own dime.

>>What educational background would you recommend for someone interested in learning more about the subject, and/or hoping to someday make a career in the historical and writing side of the Titanic?<<

If you wish to persue an academic career in history, then that right there should be your major. Beyond that, there really is no collage course to prepare you for this. The real prerequisite is research, research, and still more research, the fundementals of which you should already be aquainted with from middle school.

>>Who do you consider the leading authorities of the Titanic to be? <<

I don't know that there really is any such thing as an "authority" in this. There are some people who are profoundly well informed, some of whom you'll find on this very forum.

>>Can you suggest any ways that someone interested in the Titanic could be involved in researching or in some way working for a Titanic expert during college?<<

None come to mind. Sorry. Sokmebody else may be able to help you on that, but all I did was take an interest and start discussing it with like minded people. It's opened up a few doors and on some small and trivial level, I might have been able to make a small contribution, but there are quite a number out there who have done some serious legwork on the subject. More then I can even dream of doing.

>>What books and resources for learning more about the Titanic would you suggest? <<

Try reading the transcripts from the inquiries themselves. Fortunately, they're available on line at http://www.titanicinquiry.org/ A lot of this is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but these are essential primary sources.

>>How do you feel about the salvage rights issues that are in the news lately? <<

Lots of emotionalism, controversy, and misinformation out there along with a few nuggets of hard fact. This is something of a sore spot and about the last thing you'll ever get is feedback that might be taken for objective.

>>What path would you suggest for someone interested in having a career involving the Titanic; not so much the scientific and oceanography aspects of it, but mostly the historical side of it?<<

Well, not to sound crass, but if your only interest is Titanic, you'll probably find yourself living out there as a street person. If you want to make a living as a historian on any level, you need to have vastly broader interests.

>>What are some careers that can incorporate an interest in the Titanic into? For example, a historian, an underwater explorer, ect.<<

Any career path which deals with maritime history can incorperate it, just so long as you don't make it your only interest.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Aug 20, 2000
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quote:

How did you first get interested in the Titanic?

Read Titanic by Thomas Bonsall and was hooked for good.

quote:

When did you decided to make a career out of your interest, and how did you go about that?

I didn't, it's only an interest for me. Although, I did work at a Titanic exhibition and I am currently writing a biography on one of the passengers for this site.

quote:

Did you choose a major in college with the intent of using it to pursue a career involving the Titanic?

Nope, I didn't attend college.

quote:

What educational background would you recommend for someone interested in learning more about the subject, and/or hoping to someday make a career in the historical and writing side of the Titanic?

I can only second what Mike said. That's really the only way to go about it.

quote:

Who do you consider the leading authorities of the Titanic to be?

There are a lot of people that are very knowledgeable in their own areas and they contribute in one way or another to the Titanic community. So, it's very difficult to single anyone out.

quote:

Can you suggest any ways that someone interested in the Titanic could be involved in researching or in some way working for a Titanic expert during college?

All I can recommend is that you read as much as you can, talk to people who also have an interest and hang around this forum. That's what I've done and it's opened up quite a few doors for me.

quote:

What books and resources for learning more about the Titanic would you suggest?

Other than the inquires, which are an excellent source; A Night to Remember, Titanic: An Illustrated History, The Discovery of the Titanic and Ghosts of the Abyss are also terrific sources of information, just to name a few.

quote:

How do you feel about the salvage rights issues that are in the news lately?

It's very controversial and with a lot of emotion from both sides. The debate has been raging on for many years and probably will for a long time.

quote:

What path would you suggest for someone interested in having a career involving the Titanic; not so much the scientific and oceanography aspects of it, but mostly the historical side of it?

I'll defer to what Mike stated.

quote:

What are some careers that can incorporate an interest in the Titanic into? For example, a historian, an underwater explorer, ect.

Again, I can't put it any better than what Mike already pointed out.​
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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I am by no means an expert, but I will add one thing:

Can you suggest any ways that someone interested in the Titanic could be involved in researching or in some way working for a Titanic expert during college?

I doubt you'll find many academics who specialize in the Titanic (though I believe the Maine Maritime Academy offers a course on the Titanic occasionally--it's taught by a contributor here at ET, if memory serves). For example, Stephanie Barczewski, a professor at Clemson University, has written a book on the Titanic--but her academic specialty is really British Cultural History, not mere "Titanic-ology".

One thing you can do if you want to pursue your interest in Titanic at college is to look into whether your university's history department allows students to do "directed readings". For example, at BYU I decided I wanted to learn more about the history and the evolution of battleships. BYU doesn't offer a course on the subject, but there was a professor there whose emphasis was in military history. I contacted him, we developed a reading list, and I spent the rest of the semester reading 3,000 pages on the subject, writing summaries of what I've learned, and meeting periodically with the professor. It counted the same as taking a regular upper-level history class.

--Jim
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Dr. Barczewski's Clemson webpage is at http://www.clemson.edu/caah/history/faculty/barczewski.htm

I have a copy of her book and it's an interesting read. It has a few minor errors of fact such as the 17 knot Cartpathia legend (What book doesn't have a few mistakes?) but if it seems at times that the book is more mythos then forensic reality, keep in mind that it was the contemporary media take on the Titanic that was the focus of her interest. If you want to know and understand how a lot of it got started, this is a good book to have.
 
Dec 31, 2000
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Thought I'd answer these because heaven only knows how I wish there was a career in being a Titanic historian.
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>> 1. How did you first get interested in the Titanic? <<

I was eight years old and found one of Robert Ballard's books on the discovery of the wreck in my elementary school library. I've been fascinated by the Titanic ever since.

>> 2. When did you decided to make a career out of your interest, and how did you go about that? <<

Heh! I wish. I do hold a bachelor's degree in history now, though. I more or less decided to pursue it when I started college and my parents refused to let me major in theater. Other than that, history was the only thing I could see myself studying. It's my oldest love.
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So three months into college I declared myself a history major behind my parents' back (they didn't like that choice either) and never looked back.

>> 3. Did you choose a major in college with the intent of using it to pursue a career involving the Titanic? <<

Pretty much.
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>> 4. What educational background would you recommend for someone interested in learning more about the subject, and/or hoping to someday make a career in the historical and writing side of the Titanic? <<

Definitely history. If you can, I would take some historiography as well (a course in it was required for me). Some sociology might be helpful too as far as understanding the mindset of the era goes.

>> 5. Who do you consider the leading authorities of the Titanic to be? <<

Quite a few denizens of this board, and some people who aren't. I aspire to be one of them someday.

>> 6. Can you suggest any ways that someone interested in the Titanic could be involved in researching or in some way working for a Titanic expert during college? <<

I somewhat achieved this by finding as many ways to tie term paper assignments to the Titanic as possible; I must have written three at the very least while I was in college. My historiography class produced a paper that Philip Hind was kind enough to publish on this site.

>> 7. What books and resources for learning more about the Titanic would you suggest? <<

Start ransacking libraries for everything you can find.
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>> 8. How do you feel about the salvage rights issues that are in the news lately? <<

My general take on the issue is that as much should be saved from the wreck as possible before it disappears forever.

>> 9. What path would you suggest for someone interested in having a career involving the Titanic; not so much the scientific and oceanography aspects of it, but mostly the historical side of it? <<

Historian, or maybe something in historic preservation?

>> 10. What are some careers that can incorporate an interest in the Titanic into? For example, a historian, an underwater explorer, ect. <<

Basically what you said. Though if you really want to, you could probably tie the Titanic to just about any profession you wanted.
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Aug 10, 2002
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Emmy:
I teach a course on RMS Titanic at Maine Maritime Academy. It runs each spring semester. I hope to have it on-line by spring 2009, for people outside the academy to take. It is a 3 credit course, which allows students to bring knowledge from other disciplines to bear on Titanic. Just last week we used the academy's bridge simulator to let the students try missing the berg. Several did, others weren't so lucky.
Personally, as a child I had a child's almanac with pictures of historic events for each day, April 15th had Titanic and May 7th. had Lusitania. Later I read A Night to Remember. It is only in recent years I've had the time for much research on Titanic.
Regards,
Charlie Weeks
 
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