Research Paper


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Feb 3, 2005
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Hey guys and girls. I am currently a Junior at my high school and we have to write a Junior paper, I am doing mine on the Titanic. More specifically how I believe that the ship sank due to arrogance and that the "hero" captain Smith was nothing more than a man looking to get his 5 mins of fame. If anyone can point me in the direction of some good resources, ie. books and accredited websites, I would be very thankful
~Greg
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Greg,

It sounds like you have a real challenge there. Let me be the first to warn you on the perspective you're taking with Captain Smith. Although he was by no means perfect, he was one the the most highly accredited captains of that time. We have several experienced and retired mariners here (including Navy) from various countries. They would certainly help you, but they may also take issue with that perspective. Please, be careful, and listen to what they have to say. They have a wealth of knowledge from which you can benefit.

As for sources, always begin with the primary sources. For Titanic, that would include the Inquiry transcripts (British and American), passenger and crew manifests, blue prints, personal letters, and personal accounts from the authorities on the subject. This is good - just for starters. You may be surprised by what you find.

The transcripts are available online. The link is here somewhere, although I cannot remember where. Les Mitchum is the moderate/builder/owner of that site and therefore our resident "librarian," so I'm sure he'll provide the appropriate link for you.

Good luck! ;)
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Gregory, you might try hitting the inquiry transcripts. You can read them for yourself on line by clicking on The Titanic Inquiry Project. This is an essential primary source.

Books are nice and there are some good ones out there, but you need to be mindful of the fact that even the best of them will suffer a bit from the biases of the writers and the limitations of the sources available to them at the time they were researched and published.

>>More specifically how I believe that the ship sank due to arrogance and that the "hero" captain Smith was nothing more than a man looking to get his 5 mins of fame.<<

On close inspection, I think you may find that this premise is going to take something of a beating. The reality is that the Titanic wasn't operated any differently from any other liner of the time. The core of the problem, in my opinion, lay in the questionable assumptions behind the navigation practices of the day. One of them being that they could see and avoid ice in a timely manner. Tragically, this assumption turned out to be badly in error.

As for 5 minutes of fame, I doubt very much that this was the case. As the second sister, the Titanic didn't grab a whole lot of attention, movie presentations notwithstanding. If you're thinking in terms of a speed record, there was never any chance of achieving that and they knew it. The record holders were the Lusitania and the Mauritania, neither of which an Olympic Class liner could hope to match, and they knew it!

Some websites you might want to check out:

http://marconigraph.com/
http://home.flash.net/~rfm/index.html
http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9801/Felkins-9801.html
http://www.metallurgy.nist.gov/webpages/TFoecke/titanic/titanic.html
http://www.hf.ro/
http://www.marconicalling.com/museum/html/indexes/titanicmessagelist.html#
http://home.att.net/%7Ewormstedt/titanic/
http://users.senet.com.au/%7Egittins/index.html
http://home.earthlink.net/~dnitzer/Titanic.html
http://www.nautical-papers.com/onwatch/
http://home.comcast.net/~georgebehe/titanic/
http://www.btinternet.com/~dr_paul_lee/TitanCalif.htm
http://home.comcast.net/~bwormst7/Symposium/Titanic_Symposium.html

I'm sure some people will come along with a few others. On the matter of Books, you might try going to http://www.titanicbooksite.com/ to see the list of what's out there. You may also wish to read some of the reviews of these books. You may also want to check out some of the articles available on ET Research which may be accessed through the This Index Page.

Good luck!
 
Jul 20, 2000
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Mark,

I have tried to find the link you refer to by searching under the name of the person to whom you refer but cannot find any such person.
Are you sure about the spelling of their name?

Lester Mitcham
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Les,

I have been aware of the misspelling of your name, and I apologize for it.

As for the link, I was referring to the Titanic Inquiry Project, which Michael mentioned above. I was referring to Bill Wormstedt at the time but thinking of you. That was my mix up. Again, please accept my apologies, and thank you for pointing out to me that I have egg on my face.

*face turning an embarrassed beat-red*


--Mark
 
Jul 20, 2000
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Mark,

It was not just the misspelling of my surname it is the abbreviation of my Christian name. Some people use abbreviations, some do not. I do not. I never have or will. I have not seen you abbreviate other peoples names, so why mine?

Lester
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Lester,

Sometimes I will call Michael Standart "Mike," Bob (Robert) Godfrey as "Bob," or Captain Charles Weeks as "Charlie," for example (and there are others). They have never expressed any displeasure at hearing those abbreviations or "nicknames." If you wish your full name to be used, that's fine. No harm. It wasn't meant to infer disrespect, just casualness. Again, my apologies.
 
Jul 20, 2000
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Hello Mark,

Thank you. Apology noted and accepted.
I think some of the others sign themselves using an abbreviation or nickname. I try to address people by the way in which they sign, call or introduce themselves. It saves any possible offence.
 

Bob Godfrey

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No worries with me, Mark. I've never been anything but Bob. Case of necessity - nobody in my family could spell Robert.
:)
 
Feb 3, 2005
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Thanks for the info so far, im actually sitting down to start typing it all up. I realize i am taking a dangerous position but that is the point of this kind of paper, and it is my belief. I do however believe that Smith was a good captain, and i will leave it at that, feeling that i dont want to start anything. In any case the info i have gotten is greatly appreciated
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Gregory, best of luck with your paper, but if I may offer a bit of advice: Don't fall too in love with your own theory. *Beliefs* have a nasty habit of taking a beating when confronted with hard reality. Be mindful of the fact that any books you pick up on the subject are as much a reflection of the authors bias as they are of demonstrable fact. In fairness, this is not an easy problem to avoid, but it's there. I think after reviewing the Inquiry transcripts in detail, you'll find that a very different picture of Captain Smith emerges from the one painted by what I've come to call "The Popular Mythos" on the Titanic.

The man was hardly reckless. At least no more so then any other captain of the day, and you need to be aware of the sort of pressures the Captain of an express liner is under. Bluntly, he had a schedule to meet and if he wasn't able to do that, in short order, he would have been replaced by a more "Agressive" skipper. He just did what just about everybody else was doing in going along with the practices of the day. On the face of it, they seemed reasonable enough and had worked quite well for almost half a century. They were also wrong, but this was a lesson that ultimately had to be learned the hard way.

Of course, the above opinion also reflects own biases. You may or may not end up agreeing with them, or you may come to some different conclusions entirely from your original premise. Just be sure that on this one, you keep an open mind to alternative possibilities and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.
 
Feb 3, 2005
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I want to again thank you all for your input, because of what you have told me I have slightly changed my position. I have decided that I will blame the whole tragedy on Captain Smith, White Star Line, and the accountants that "ruled the seas." Now im not trying to be stupid, i respect your views on Titanic because quite frankly many of you know much more than i do. But i know my paper assignment and i have to have a strong point to prove, not only that but i do believe what i am saying, im not just coming up with it so i can write a paper, i truly feel this way. Thanks for the help
~Greg
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I have decided that I will blame the whole tragedy on Captain Smith, White Star Line, and the accountants that "ruled the seas."<<

Well, that's your call to make, but it's also rather simplistic. The causes of accidents of any kind are rarely so cut and dried, and going in with a bias where you feel you simply *must* prove something is a near certain sure way to come out with all the wrong answers. Or worse yet, a litany of distortions and half truths, without ever understanding why it's misleading or just plain wrong.

Might I suggest that instead of deciding on a conclusion...regardless of your feelings...that you just follow the evidence where it leads and let the chips fall where they may?

In short, don't go into this with any preconcieved notions.
 

Ernie Luck

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Gregory

If you plan to blame Captain Smith, it might be worth your while to read Gary Cooper's biography of him, 'The Man who sank the Titanic', available on Amazon. He was a very experienced Captain having come up the hard way through the ranks.

It will be interesting to see your research, but if it's full of ill informed opinions you can expect some big guns to be pointed in your direction.
 
Feb 3, 2005
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so here it is my introduction, the paper is almost done, i thought it appropriate to share with u guys my into. Hope u all enjoy...


"There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers" -Phillip Franklin, White Star Line Vice-President. I wish I could type that he was right, that he was not being arrogant and that the Titanic was built to withstand everything; that right now it would be sitting in a museum recognized as a technological marvel of the 20th century. The Titanic instead lies two miles below the Atlantic and is rapidly deteriorating, finally erasing the mistake that shook nations. She took with her the hopes and dreams of millions and stole the lives of over fifteen hundred souls. Soon after she sank on April 15, 1912 people began speculating how it happened, most said it was fate. Believing the only way the unsinkable Titanic could have done just that is if there had been an extremely rare series of events that could not have been prevented. Almost one hundred years later, I look at it as a tragedy created by misplaced confidence and more importantly the arrogance of man. White Star Line and its employees, wanting fame over substance, created Titanic to be a star; running the ship inadequately and never letting the public know the true story. From the day she was just a dream written out on a piece of paper; Titanic had a large flaw, created by sure arrogance, a flaw spotted too late. She was built to impress, not to sail.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Titanic had a large flaw, created by sure arrogance, a flaw spotted too late. She was built to impress, not to sail.<<

As a matter of fact, that's exactly what she was built to do and that was what she did along with literaly thousands of other vessels. Gregory, if what you're interested in doing is a research paper, it would be wise to avoid deciding what your conclusions are going to be befor even commiting ink to paper. That way, you avoid the pitfall of confusing the mythos with the actual history.

With all due respect, what you've offered here is the popular mythos. There's a grain of truth to some of it, but like any such, it misses the reality by quite a large margin.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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There are only three confirmed facts to this that I see:

1) The Titanic sank on the early morning of April 15, 1912

2) The ship took over 1,500 people to their deaths,

and (3) The ship lies and estimated two miles at the bottom of the Atlantic and is quickly deteriorating.


Other than that...

Perhaps you can work on these three facts, such as finding association between them and connecting them, or delving into the details of each and see where it takes you.


Don't say I didn't warn you about proceeding with this theory.


Mark Hopkins
Editorial Executive
River Walk Journal
http://www.riverwalkjournal.org
 
Feb 3, 2005
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OK....so....if you are that upset about what I'm writing, dont read it. Like i have said before, or if i havent let me say, this is a research/THESIS paper, meaning i have to prove something, and take a side of the argument. If you really feel that my paper is biased and one sided, then you are right, that is the point of a thesis paper, to play into a bias and use it correctly to prove your theory, however i also present the other side of the issue and i give captain smith his credit, and then shoot him down. Thanks for the input, ill post my grade later.
 

Paul Rogers

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As someone who's never written any form of research paper (and is never likely to) I say: you go for it, Gregory. Try and prove your thesis and I, for one, will read it.

I'll also take my hat off to you for having the ability to write such a thesis, (whether I'll agree with it or not), and the courage to publish it on a public forum.
 
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