Taking more artifacts from the wreck


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Derek J Byrne

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Against the arguments concerning disturbing graves etc I think that there is value in lifting artifacts from the wreck. On land archeologists constantly disturb old graves on "dig" sites and there is no problem especially if they are ancient. I cannot imagine there would be a moral objection to recovering objects from the Titanic in 500 years. Let's do it now - but carefully.
 

Paul Rogers

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Jun 1, 2000
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Derek,

I can see where you're coming from. However, I respectfully disagree.

Archeologists currently dig up old graves and settlements to try and find out what life was like in the distant past for our ancestors, as very little evidence exists today about those times.

I'd suggest that we know almost everything about how life was lived only some 90 years ago. Records are numerous and well documented. They will still (probably) be available in 500 years from now.

Most of the items on Titanic were not original or even rare, but simply mass-produced for the White Star Line.

There are much easier sites available to explore,(on land and at sea), should one wish to find items dating back to the early 1900's. So why go to all the time, trouble, risk and expense to recover artifacts from Titanic? IMO, it's simply because of the media hype and publicity surrounding the ship, and nothing to do with the science of archaeology.

Let's respect those people who died in the tragedy and leave well alone.

Regards,

Paul.
 
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Yurisingleton

Guest
"RMST to Raise Bow section of TITANIC!!"
This would surely be the headline if only the technology to do so were in existance. So its being done piece by piece. Why? To what end do we need to collect the countless bits and relics from this ship and her doomed human cargo? Profit? Science? Nostalgia? Why go to the trouble of diving to the Titanic wreck to collect a few personal effects, why not just go to Halifax and dig up the remains of those buried there? It would be a lot easier wouldn't it? Surely any artifacts found on the bodies would be useful in advancing the boundaries of science. I mean can such a chance to further understand that ancient era of 1912 be ignored?

Lets assume for a moment we had the means to actually raise the Titanic and tow it to a harbor somewhere. Then what? Put up a sign and sell tickets? Restore it? What mystery about this disaster is so important to solve that we continue to chase this ship even into its tomb?

My answer: Titanic still represents man's desire to defy death and mortallity. That is why we chase her. She represents our mortality and our fear of the dark. The recovery of items from the ship gives a kind of re-birth to the ship, thus denying death its victory. The desire to reclaim the vessel equates to victory over nature, the ocean. Metaphorically, the iceberg sank her, the ocean buried her, but man's power will overcome both by resurrecting her from her tomb. Man will prove more powerful than nature.
That is why RMST is determined to salvage the Titanic. That is why many support their efforts. We wish to see her afloat again. Victorious, back from the dead.
You see the voyage of Titanic is ongoing.
Someday, not too long off perhaps, when man's power has increased to where raising the ship will be possible, the headlines at the top of this post which is longer than the Titanic, will be reality.
But what then. I guess when we eventually raise her and restore her and sail her once again in the year 2112, then we can all say, 'Look, the unsinkable Titanic! Symbol of Man's dominance of nature!"
"Maintain speed Mr. Lightoller."


Yuri Singleton
Dallas, Texas, USA
 
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Richard99

Guest
I agree it's a grave and should be left alone. I especially disagree with companies bringing up artifacts for profit which has happened in the past. The wreck has been thouroghly photographed and should be left alone.
 
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Richard again

Guest
It is obviously not for science. People are interested in doing this grave robbing because there is a mass interest in artifacts due to
the fact that hundreds of lives were lost. There
are hundreds of sunken ships in the ocean where no
lives were lost and there is no interest in that.
If this is allowed to happen, what will be next?
Will be be bringing up artifacts from big airplane
crashes?
 
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Shane Kruger

Guest
i repeat....
if i was a passenger on the ship i would have wanted as much as possible recovered, of mine and the ship,

shane
 
Aug 29, 2000
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I enter these waters with much trepidation. I understand all these points of view and I have changed my point of view over the years as the "players" have become known to me- and their motives. I have know all the players from Grimm to Tulloch to Geller. Known them all well. I have known the men-known their hearts- known the greed of some, and the noble sentiments of others. My major point is to say that the players have changed-the agenda seems to be changing. It was my position at the beginning to establish, to the satisfaction of the French Minister of the Sea- a guarantee that our historical society, its archives, and experts, would support the effort to bring significant artifacts from the debris field of the wreck site and support the endeavor to preserve them for posterity, support their scientific restoration and conservation, and endorse the ultimate end of exhibiting them for benefit of international education and appreciation of a major event in world history. I went to court in Norfolk- I heard the proceedings involving Mr. Grimm. I was responsible for the translation of the Electricite De France scientific publication, OBJETS DU TITANIC for benefit of Judge Clarke. This was so detailed and in some cases ground-breaking in conservation technique, it required the talents of two chemists from MIT to do it justice. France was adamant that this be a genuine salvage ( a noble word with root -to save) and NOT a PLUNDER FOR PROFIT scheme. If more professional, careful divers and sub pilots than those Frenchmen exist in the world, I have yet to meet them. When the Nadir came into Norfolk with the davit from Titanic on her stern-the ENTIRE tragedy of that night fell in on me in a way no grainy black and white photograph could ever convey. I touched that davit, stood next to it, wondered whose hand had touched it last-who lived and who had to die because there were not enough boats for this davit. I saw the onboard lab with artifacts carefully packed in seawater-soaked foam, undergoing stabilization before going to France for conservation. Things were touched with reverence and awe. What was a story told was a story visible. I have been a teacher for many years, taken many students to meet survivors, observed their faces upon meeting living history. Knowing these people has had a profound effect on my life- and made an indelible impression on the minds of many young people. Very soon now there will be no more survivors-no tactile, visible remnant of this tragic, dramatic microsecond in the timeline of history. But Titanic's whistle will be forever- her bell, engine telegraph, davit,and touching human reminders of lives lost and dreams unfulfilled will go on when this generation is dust. Could any attempt at such a venture be perfect, satisfy everyone, meet every expectation-I doubt it- for the atmosphere was hostile toward the effort to try from the first day. Like it or not- and thanks to all the modern inventions of modern day technology, we ARE a VISUAL society. As an English teacher I know the attention span of the average student is about 10 minutes- and sadly we do NOT read. Young people respond -and this is positive- to the visual stimuli. Seeing the REAL thing has awakened interest in history and fostered good things. Young faces and OLD faces are mezmerized at exhibitions of artifacts wherever I have gone to observe both in the U.S. and Europe. I have compassion for the feelings of Eva Hart, Marshall Drew, and others who lost family- how could they feel otherwise. Visual reminders to those who were there are painful- just as to the men who came back from Vietnam. Franks Aks took another point of view- as a salvor himself- he wanted to see a recovery of artifacts- of course he and his mother were saved from the disaster. Circumstance affects opinion. A few years ago I went to see the Ramses II exhibit in Boston. It was fascinating to see the recovered items- the crowds were hushed and awestruck. At the very end, in a squalid glass box was the stripped and exposed mummy of the great Pharoh. Under the glare of bright lights I froze- this was TOO far. The dignity of human life is to be respected. This was not respect but raw sensationalism. The great thing is to know when to STOP. Yes, there were gawkers- it is the worst of human nature sometimes. After much digressing I must sum up by hoping that I have voiced an alternative view. It is a complex and emotionally explosive issue. Today I am on the sidelines by choice-those I knew and respected have come and gone-the salvage continues-I am no longer sure of the agenda. I have concerns- putting artifacts on the auction block I find distasteful but it is a fact of life from the sale of Jackie Kennedy's pearls to bits of the Hindenburg girder-it is our nature to want to own a piece of history. I hope it does not happen-it was not the intent of the original team. Just as the Press misrepresented so much to the public in 1912, so it does still today-one must look behind the printed word to the hearts and minds and deeds of the players in the drama-there is always much more to the story./ Shelley
 

Mike Herbold

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That was the most profound, honest, heartfelt, and well written statement to appear in any discussion on any subject on this board for months. Thank you very much, Shelley.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Yes, Mike Herbold, I agree,...Shelley....I didn;t touch the divat, but your words touched my heart. Thanks for sharing. Hope you are doing well. Maureen.
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Oddly, the accounts I've read of visitors to the exhibitions were appalled at the reaction of the public. The callousness and rubbernecking disgusted them.

As far as I'm concerned, the way to these stories is here on land, with the artifacts and letters that people are too bloody lazy to look for. It takes time and effort to look for this material on land - but this is a private corporation with a bottom-line responsibility to their stockholders.

I was - once - confronted with items salvaged from the wreck, and they did indeed evoke a reaction in me. One of complete and utter horror and disgust.

More teacups? By 'em on ebay.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Dear Shelley,

It seems whenever I read your posts I always end up dabbing my eyes. I was extraordinarily moved by your words on an issue that is likewise an upsetting one for me.

You must be aware of how revered you are by those on either side of the question of salvage so you don't need praise from me. But I still want you to know from the outset that although we hold opposing thoughts on the issue it doesn't change one iota the genuine feelings of respect and admiration I have for you and your phenomenal and brilliant work on behalf of THS and TI, etc.

I also do see what you mean about the importance of the visual in education. My mother is also a teacher and shares much the same concern. My one counterpoint here is - aren't there enough Titanic artifacts for display that weren't brought up from the wreck?

Learning that you are no longer actively involved in the salvage situation as it is now unfolding was, I have to say, a great relief to me. Your first-hand knowledge of the professionalism and reverence of the original French team was a comfort - and makes me disappointed that they are no longer connected for I can't help thinking that if they were, what has been happening of late may not have had to be.

Thanks for sharing your views. I may not agree with them but I respect them - and you.

In closing, let me remind you that we all have you near in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time for you and your family.

All my best, as always,

Randy
 
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Inger,

It's true that some people at the Atlantic City exhibition that I attended last year were in the category that could be called "tacky". It was nothing overt, just a lot of "Oooh, isn't that pretty?" from women when they saw the jewelry. But that wasn't true for most of the people there. They were quiet mostly, and sometimes staring at me when I got down on the floor to more fully investigate a porthole. And two people behind me at the telegraph thought I was rude because I would not get out of the way (hey, I felt at home near that thing!)

And don't take any offense by this following statement, but it's not only because of laziness that many of us don't look for the material on land. I would love to do more research and not always have to pester researchers like yourself with senseless questions. But lack of money and the inability to connect with the human animal make that impossible for me. (I do happen to have the time though). I know there are some that just take research from books and off the Net and claim it as their own. But I think that most of us just are constrained by circumstances.

That doesn't mean I agree with bringing things up from the wreck; in fact, I'm happy to see that Judge Clarke saw the light. And I did not want to ever see any of those things, but...it's hard to describe why I finally decided to go that exhibition. Compelled one might say.
 
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Kritina-I can really identify with your sentiments. Most of my peak research and travel was done in the late 70's when gas was cheap and hotels were 22 dollars a night. I also had, and still do have a VERY non-cooperative spouse ("Are those BOAT people coming again??!)I had 2 small children and my husband was not the new "enlightened" variety that will play Mr. Mom so I dragged them with me everywhere from Ellis Island to Bayonne New Jersey to points all over the compass- they still remember-but oh, the PEOPLE these kids met and the guests, survivors, and authors that stayed at our house. I can NEVER sell my diningroom table when I think who sat there! I always envied the single men who did Titanic research- so free to come and go. If you live far away from the real maritime hot spots and resource centers- it is doubly hard. That's why it is so wonderful to have a place like this ET site and the Internet to find out things. I used a manual typewriter until 1987! Don't be disappointed though- even from an armchair it's possible to find things out- be a tenacious letter-writer and voracious reader. Talk to as many people as you can. Never give up. I have been incredibly lucky to have been at the right place at the right time to get included in so much. Retirement is coming-I can't wait/shelley
 
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Ing, Kritina and Shelley,
When the Cameron Titanic movie first came out, I refused to go to see it. My kids could not understand why. Finally I was taking a class on the urgency of things lets say and the instructor required all who had not seen the movie to see it. Well, I went (not a happy camper) but it was overwhelming to me and I was in the end glad that I went. So I think that I share the feelings of Kritina and Shelley in that regard.

But the way that the French Expedition handled things and the way that things are being brought up now possibly should be examined. A point was raised somewhere on this board in a distant thread by someone I honestly do not remember who, that a settlement was made for losses. Does that elliminate the individual's rights to their own things? Does the insurance carrier have the right to retrieve what they in fact pruchased thorugh that settlement as their personal property? I really do not know the answers to these questions.

Emotionally, I feel for the survivors and their families. It is like that feeling you get when you drive past your childhood home and someone gutted it and built a 7-11 (24 hour convenience store) there inside the shell of your home. So I can understand where Shelley is coming from with her memories of her diningroom table and the treasure trove she gave to her children through her travels and her research.

Folks like Shelley are the Walden Pond inhabitants of the Titanic world. They are the people with the creativeness to seek possibilities and not just the facts. And we need them,....faced with just facts we would still be looking at a wrong location. Ballard was a visionary and creative thinker.

But also, I believe now that all people experience mourning and respect for the dead differently. For some folks, just to have one item from a loved one is a treasure. many lost everythign they owned on this ship and that can't be purchased or replaced.

And it is not just retrieiving things from an era to understand tea cups or to merely buy them on Ebay, but to touch a bell or a divat is what it is like to see that silly small tiny piece of moon rock at the Air Space Museum here in DC takes children in their minds to a place that they themselves will no doubt never go.

The researchers have the time, the gas, the support and the whatever else it takes to go and do this stuff and I do not. Kritina does not and Shelley does not. But I agree that does not make us lazy. But to see that watch in that Postal Museum which was loaned out to the exhibit by the family by the way with the SOS signal being played in the background was ...well emotional for a time. They had no other "artifacts" and the only reference to research, salvage or bringing it all up was in a section where the mail bags were discussed. There was some hope at that time that the leather had preserved the mail and that it could be retrieved to take to the rightful owners.

But this ET board can help out with people willing to do research and do cross research for each other in a trusting environment.

Several references have been made to the thought that some may "borrow" from others regarding the research. It is hard to figure who came up with an idea first. For example, many out here on the ET Board aare doingf research privately without expressing their research to others. I posted an idea for a book that included the idea of religions...because I wrote it as an idea here, does not mean that others have not thought of that prior to my thought. Does that mean when Pat publishes his book regarding religions from Utah represented on Titanic that he has stolen my idea? No.
The way that this board works is due to integrity on the part of the members. My hope is that I am not wrong about any of you. This is a great group and we can help each other in such a great way.
I too pray for retirement so that I can be unleashed to work on this full time. I can;t wait!

And by the way Shelley most of us boat people would be glad to stay at a motel 6 and meet you outside the nearby Taco Bell parking lot. We'll send up 8 rockets when Pat gets there with the cheesecake!
LOL, Maureen.
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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My comments about 'laziness' were not directed at specific individuals. I fully appreciate that not everyone has the wherewithal in time or funds to travel and access the sources they would like to see - if I had my way, I'd alternate a month in England with a month in Wales to get access to the material I want.

I'm talking about Titanic enthusiasts as a group. There is material available without too much effort in the UK, and in many locations throughout the US and other countries. I become increasingly frustrated as I see money expended on bringing up yet MORE teacups and other bits and pieces of WSL cuttlery and china - and socks, for God's sake - when there is so much data to be gleaned, for example, about the crewman through official records. And the official records are just the begining - from there you go to private sources. This could be done systematically - we could learn more in a week's worth of research at the PRO than through all the dives that have yet taken place on the wreck about men who crewed the ship.

Kritina - I'm glad your experience at the exhibition was different to those of others who have attended. They were dismayed and disgusted at the sheer insensitivity of many exhibition attendees. Crass comments were just the begining of it. And quite frankly I find that the idea of any sensitivity on the part of the organisers somewhat negated by the sale of Titanic boxer shorts.

I don't give a damn about whether or not the salvors have any legal right to the possessions of a 24 year old whose death caused a lifetime's worth of grief to those who knew him. I'm not arguing about legalities.

Once again - I think it's a bloody circus, aimed at lining the coffers of the stockholders. And as far as I'm concerned, the blowing of the Titanic's whistles was akin to reanimating the larynx of a corpse. It verges on goulishness.
 
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Ing,
It's funny in a way, but you were the one who in several posts states that we just need facts not emotionalism in research and yet it appears that a mighty sensitive spot has been broke open and salt poured in generously here.

I want to be clear here, there are many who are very moved by what you state regarding socks, boxer shorts and a lifetime's worth of grief to those who knew the 24 year old who died. I very much agree with you. And it is upsetting when settlements are made that insensitive people move in to claim or pilfer through private things. I hate that too. And I too do not give a damn about whether or not the salvors have any legal right to these private things, because I too have allowed these people of long ago to get under my skin and it is personal now...it isn't just business. The Godfather was wrong.

But the facts and not the emotions of the issue are (as someone I can't remember who it was now) still remain, if what they said is true: given that there was a settlement the source of the settlement would have taken over ownership of the ship and its contents. But, is that true?

Legally, they didn't take possession....so, didn't they too give up their rights by not going after their property? So, when the items are recovered, shouldn't they be handed over to the original owners....or is it finder keepers losers weepers sort of thing. (On 295 running just south of DC, if you leave your car unattended on the road to seek road service, you will be lucky to find your chasis in the morning let alone your vehicle. But the residents hold to the finders keepers attitude.)

That seems a totally cold way of handling it. But that seems the way of this world anymore.

I have no idea anymore what is right and what is wrong Ing. All I know is that in my heart, it hurts. It hurts to see folks gutting her. And yet it was totally errie and yet fascinating to stand before an item, even a watch that was a part of all of this.

I respect you Ing and your view. And I know you don;t give a damn whether I do or not, I just thought that I would say that.
Maureen.
Please note:When you pass on, if I am still here I will see to it that none of the guys goes through your private things.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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All,

Ing is absolutely right about the need for MORE research and LESS digging about in the mud for trinkets. A tea cup is a tea cup is a tea cup. That it came off the Titanic may be a better pedigree than your average teacup can ever dream of acquiring but it doesn't make it the Holy Grail. So much focus is cast on salvagable items but afterall how much can tableware or even waterlogged personal belongings tell us that is not trivial or, as Ing has said, "ghoulish?" Very little.

So why do we want to see these things? Morbid curiosity. It's human, yes, but we can resist the temptation I think and move on.

Which is what I hope RMST, Inc will do. And I also hope we enthusiasts can move from gawking in the aisles at artifact shows to taking on a little research of our own. You don't have to be a published author or a professional investigator. And you don't have to be rich or have gobs of time on your hands. And it's an opportunity to be really involved in the story of the Titanic.

We can't all survey the ocean floor or caress the articles retrieved but we can all spin a reel of microfilm or leaf through pages or make notes from old records. We all have our special points of interest or favorite people in the Titanic story. Pick one to do a little bit of independent research on and you'll be surprised what you find and how much! Just ask Phillip Gowan if it's rewarding work. Ask George Behe, or Inger Sheil, or Shelley Dziedzic.

Libraries and archives and photo agencies are the real gold mines of Titanic history, not the muck of a North Atlantic sea bed.
 
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Randy,
What you say is true about the "libraries and archives and photo agencies are the real gold mines of the Titanic history". But a lot of it takes travel or teamwork due to the specific nature of the locations of the data, but perhaps some of us could help others to do their research.

At the National Geographic Society here in DC they have a staff that gather up books and clippingsfor the writer/editors of the magazines and books when they are about to do a book or article. I used to do this when I was in college. This was the best experience in the world. It taught me what research is all about and how valuable even a small news article can be.

The folks at NGS basically have the same sort of philosophy that I believe that George Behe has towards books and research and that is research it to death, validate and verify your facts and then waive the common stuff and write about the stuff that folks do not know.

Ing, I am not a titanic author or researcher by any means, but I would be happy to help you out here in the DC area with things that I can find or do. To sift through the pile of papers to find the really important stuff so that you can find it easily. I have no idea how I can help, but I am offering to do so for you.
Maureen.
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Maureen - I have never posted on the need to divorce emotion from research. I do not advocate such a course, and never have. In matters of empirical data or interpretation I believe researchers should not let their emotional involvement cloud their objectivity, but some of the most powerful work and words come from individuals who are passionate about their subject. What I posted about earlier was respecting the intentions of others, and of the inherant fallacy of trying to ascribe a blanket set of views to those who perished in the wreck or those related to them.

Incidently, I know something about isolation from sources. I come from Australia, after all. And it was to overcome the tyranny of distance I relocated to London. But before I arrived here I used the tools available to me - local libraries, microfiche/film, the Internet (thank God for the internet) and correspondence. I also routinely make the effort to assist those researchers who want to access London sources - I spent several hours yesterday at the FRC doing lookups for other people.

Randy, I share your views on the salvage efforts wholeheartedly. You expressed it beautifully. What is being done in the North Atlantic is more akin to treasure or souvenir hunting - not research. If only a fraction of that money and effort were expended on real academic research...

I make no apologies for this being a sore spot. I will not condone the salvage efforts - not even with silence.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Ing,
Didn't ask you to be silent nor did I expect that you would be. I also was not asking you to divorce yourself from the emotions and was clearly stating that I could understand where you were coming from because I too share the same feelings. I am sorry if I came acorss that way.

My past year has been distraught with feelings and legal issues that one hopes that no one on this planet will have to face alone. But bottom line despite my gut moral beliefs on issues, the legalities came into it and won out. And I and many other people lost. Victims lost. All because of some stupid loop hole.

Condone what happened? No way. But it did happen and I can not do anything about it. I tried for 11 long years and I lost this one. And so about 2 months ago I decided that the authorities in place must accept accountability in this for what has happened. I accept my beliefs, but as Tina Turner says I just don't want to fight anymore.

I support you in your beliefs regarding salvage and I know you came from Australia and I also know that you do research for folks, as do I. I offered to help you out Ing here in the DC area and I meant it. There are no strings to that offer and it still stands. I respect you and your opinion Ing, as a person and as a scholar.

Maureen.
 
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