Titanic and the SOLAS Conference of 1914

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Robyn Hill

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Hi, all -- I'm a senior at Wichita State University researching a term paper on how the sinking of Titanic resulted in new maritime laws for Britain and America.

I have located the British and American inquiries and am going through them right now. However, the only location I can find for the text of the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Convention of 1914 that's willing to copy and ship it to me is the British Archives (and I just paid them $16 to see how much it will cost to copy it for me!) Is there any place online -- or in a resource book --that I can find the text? (I have looked everywhere for the last three weeks, so if not, I won't be surprised.) If there isn't, is there a specific reason why this, like the inquiry texts, can't be put online?

Thanks for any help/advice --
Robyn Hill
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Robyn,

I don't believe that you will find it online. For my research, I went to the library. Is there a reason why it hasn't been, or can't be, put online? Not that I'm aware of. The return, though, must make the effort worthwhile. Only a very few people would see such a return.

Parks
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo Robyn -

The Inquiry texts going online were the result of the efforts of many researchers going to the trouble of transcribing hundreds of pages of data, all co-ordinated by Rob Ottmers of the Titanic Inquiry Project (TIP). It's one of the most altruistic actions ever seen in Titanic research circles, done simply because the people involved wanted to make this source accessible to as many people as possible.

While some archives are moving to put their most accessed sources online (the 1901 British Census, for example, was released online, and Ellis Island has made their immigration records available through the internet), many such sources are often the result of private individuals and non-government funded organisations puting in the work, often voluntarily. Some genealogical organisations are now transcribing passenger lists and putting them online, for example.

Unfortunately, research is often an expensive business - many of us have to order documents from archives, often overseas, and can spend thousands of pounds or dollars over the years. I would never want to add up what I've spent on obtaining the material I need...even when I've visited an archive in person, the copying has proved expensive. You have my sympathies on the expense of ordering these documents - hopefully someone out there who has this document will be kind enough to assist you.
 

Pat Winship

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May 8, 2001
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Hi, Robyn.

I've been hunting for it this afternoon, and have so far located two copies. One is at the Science Industry and Business Library of the New York Public Library (SIBL)-- however it is checked out and almost two months overdue. This tells me that there's a fairly serious possibility it's not coming back at all. There is also a copy at the Library of Congress. On Monday, I will show the LC record to our head of Interlibrary Services here at Newark Public Library, and see if we can either borrow theirs, or locate another copy closer to home. If it can be gotten here-- sometimes being a library staff member helps in obtaining materials that might not otherwise be lent-- I can copy it for free, and send you one. I just hope your paper isn't due for a couple of months, because sometimes it takes a while to get things in.

It's not an extremely large book (122 pages), and might be do-able in hypertext.

Pat W.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Pat to the rescue again! There should be an award for researchers like you who go that extra mile to help disseminate data...often at the expense of time and effort.
 

Pat Winship

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May 8, 2001
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Awwww shucks (blush) I just seen my duty and I done it. Or will, if the gods and godesses of Interlibrary Services smile upon me and produce the book!

Pat W.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Robyn, you have picked a devil of a topic. The point to remember about the 1914 SOLAS Convention is that it was never ratified. The nations involved had a little diversion called World War I. Some of the proposed changes were implemented in a piecemeal fashion by various nations but the whole thing had to be done again in 1929. Even then, the US did not ratify until 1936, and then with reservations. In the process, some things in the 1914 version were changed, especially some of the proposed rules on ship construction. As I recall, there is a basic history on the US Coast Guard site but it's very hard to get the whole picture together. The story is very far from the simplistic popular tale of 'so they carried lifeboats for everybody and lived happily ever after.' You'd be surprised to know what modern ships carry, but I'll leave that for you to research.
 
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Robyn Hill

Guest
Everyone -- thanks so much for you advice and research! Really, you've gone above and beyond.

Pat -- that would be fantastic, thanks for the offer! (And no, I haven't left the research to last minute -- paper is due in December -- but I have another major research paper on Neanderthal burials due this semester, too!) I did go through WSU's interlibrary loan dept, but was told due to the nature of the document and the libraries that hold it, I would do better to get it from the British Archives instead. Go figure. If you can get ahold of this, that would be FABULOUS and I will offer to put it in PDF format for this website, if it's legal and you are interested in having this document?

Deborah -- thanks for your research as well. I will go to those websites as soon as I get a chance here at work!

Dave -- thanks for the heads up on the dates. I'll try to find the 1929 version of this as well (something I think WSU might actually have in their holdings).

Thanks again, everyone --
Robyn Hill
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Robyn, for Poseidon's sake, anything but pdf! We don't all have broadband and the pdf files would be huge. I'm familiar with them and they are quite lengthy, with a lot of space devoted just to the lists of signatories. Mercy!
 

Pat Winship

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May 8, 2001
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Hi, Robyn!

I was delayed a day in requesting the interloans-- I played hookey from work in order to finish sewing some very necessary clothing. So that will go out today. I'll also keep checking the New York Public Library website, in hopes that their copy will be returned.

I have a fair amount of experience with html. That's a lot more reasonable in size than PDF. I'll take a look at the item, and see if it's worth posting, and get it up.

Pat W.
 
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Robyn Hill

Guest
Pat --

When/if you locate the report, please let me know how much shipping will be so I can send you the postage!

Everyone's right about the PDF format, yes!!!
 

Pat Winship

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May 8, 2001
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Hi, Robyn

NPL Interlibrary Services is putting through a request to the Library of Congress. We're trying to get it loaned to us for free. There are a couple of copies closer, but one charges $15.00 per item, and the other charges $20.00 so we'd rather not have to get it that way. Hope you feel the same! Mrs. Deodene, Head of our Interlibrary Services thinks the librarians you dealt with are lazy!

Cheers!

Pat Winship
 
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Robyn Hill

Guest
Pat -- thanks so much for your efforts. I really appreciate it, considering the British Archives emailed me this morning to say it would cost over $80 to copy the report -- not counting postage . . . so in that case, even the $15 fee wouldn't be too bad!

Thanks so much again --
Robyn
 

Pat Winship

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May 8, 2001
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Inger Sheil once said that the British libraries and archives "charge like a wounded bull" for copies!

Pat W.
 

Pat Winship

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May 8, 2001
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Hi, Robyn

I think the gods just cracked a smile. NPL Interlibrary Services received an e-mail this morning from the Library of Congress to the effect that the item has been shipped to us. Now all it has to do is get here!

Pat W
 

Pat Winship

Member
May 8, 2001
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Hi, Robyn

The SOLAS Convention of 1914 arrived today. The binding is a tad frail, but the sheets of text are flexible, and can be copied without too much difficulty. I need to chase down some more 11x17 paper so I can copy the charts-- I had not intended to do the French section, but there are diagrams in there that are referred to in the English translation, so, to be on the safe side, I'll do the whole thing. You'll need to e-mail me privately with your snailmail address so I can get it sent later this week.

Cheers!

Pat W