Titanic Historian working on a new presentation...


Titanicmaster

Titanic Historian based on facts not speculation.
Member
May 31, 2021
2
0
1
62
North Carolina
Greetings from North Carolina

I am a highly experienced Titanic historian who presents to local groups, organizations via spoken word, and using visual slides and data.
Have two professional programs so far:

Titanic separating Truth from Fable. A summary of only the facts of the tragedy, from its origins, design & build, to a chronological series of events culminating in the foundering. Starts with Morgan Robertson's novel of 1898 Futility, and covers all available facts to detail the sinking and rescue 705 passengers. Touches on The Carpathia, The Californian, as well as Senator Smith's investigation as well as the British Board of Trades Inquiry. I also put to rest the conspiracy theories. (no active fire on board, coal dust igniting was common; Titanic never sank; confirmed via H&W serial number from salvaged parts, Insurance scam etc)

Titanic Man's Technological Achievement of the Industrial Revolution. This focuses on the technology of the time, and era that created the ship. From the 3rd generation steam engines, use of Turbine technology, Marconi, and all the on board technologies that made the ship quiet, fast and smooth. Covers the history of steam engines and transatlantic travel from Brunnell's Great Eastern, through the major countries liners race to out do each other from 1880's through 1914 (first world war) German Hamburg line, Cunard and of course, The International Mercantile Marine of JP Morgan.

And now...I am working on my new presentation:
Titanic the Human Element. Covering from the 10-15,000 Belfast workers who built the ship, to the creators, builders, designer, with a review and analysis of the socio-economic factors in the first decade of the 20th century, examining how British class structure determined life and death of the sinking, and the acceptance of it; versus the American perspective of a country where anything is possible, and Americans determine their own fortune and not accept their hand of fate. Most important of all, the Mind & Faith of people at the turn of the century must be recognized. Survivors lack of knowledge, science, technology, pure analytical logic versus the generally accepted fact that this was an Act of God, versus the arrogance, greed, & laissez faire attitude that prevailed on numerous levels of the tragedy. Some survivors accounts are credible, most are not...time does not help the facts, only the fables.

I am struggling with the format and outline of this presentation. Most concerned not to just make it a boring fact ridden bio of the loved and lost, as well as the lives of the survivors. In truth, most survivors where haunted the rest of the days of their lives, and just like the brutal tragedies of war, many chose never to speak of the sinking.

I do think one woman represents a good way to join all the factors of the Human Element together and that is the real Margaret Tobin Brown...a girl who came from rural poverty in America. and established herself a woman of the world. No formal education, yet spoke 6 languages and could hold her own against the richest, most wealthy & powerful people of the era. The Titanic was just one incident in her life, but she was so much more...a fierce defender of women's rights (the vote) Ran as one of the only women for the US Senate, went to World War I in France to establish (with her friend Henry Ford, created the first Ambulance Corps) for which she was awarded the highest medal to be given to a civilian, the Legion of Honor. This is the woman I think I should use to reflect each aspect of the people that made up the workers, creators, crew & passengers of the Titanic. Let her personality, determination and perseverance guide the presentation

Any intellectual erudite feedback to assist me in how to structure all the above in an entertaining and educational presentation would be most welcome.
One sentence response are not welcome...lol

Thank you for your time.

Frederick
 
Last edited:

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
720
401
108
Glasgow, Scotland
Starts with Morgan Robertson's novel of 1898 Futility, and covers all available facts to detail the sinking and rescue 705 passengers

On the "Futility" angle, be sure to point out that after the Titanic disaster, Morgan Robertson actually changed the description of the ship in his novel to more closely fit that of the "Olympic class".

It's also worth pointing out that Robertson held vile anti-Semitic views which bleed strongly through the second half of the text. He was a dreadful, hack writer who was (rightly) never taken seriously by his peers.

The 705 survivors total is wrong. It was widely accepted for decades (and I believed it) but at the turn of the century that figure was subsequently revised to 712. I'm not aware of anyone who has challenged that figure since.

I also put to rest the conspiracy theories. (no active fire on board, coal dust igniting was common; Titanic never sank; confirmed via H&W serial number from salvaged parts, Insurance scam etc)

I'm glad to read that. That daft coal bunker fire theory has sadly caught people's imaginations in the last few years, despite the overwhelming evidence against it. The "brittle steel" and "faulty rivets" theory also just won't go away either, in spite of lab testing in the nineties proving that they were strong and sound.

Other myths that people believe but which need to be torpedoed are things like Murdoch being blamed for not ramming the iceberg head on (they were trained never to ram deliberately things) and reversing the engines (there wasn't time to fully reverse the engines, not all but most historians also now believe he ordered "stop" rather than "full astern"). Murdoch's options were severely limited, he only had seconds to try something and what he chose to do pretty much every other steamship officer of the day regardless of nationality would have done.

Then we have "the crew were all strangers", actually a lot of them did know each other and many lived on the same streets, had previously served on the same ships before and quite a few were related by blood or marriage.

There are the famous two stories of sacrifice which make people feel all warm and fuzzy inside but which are just not true: Firstly, that the band played until the end (they did not, the sloping deck and list probably forced them to stop sometime between 01:30 and 01:50). Secondly, the engineers all drowning in the engine room (none of them did, a large group of them headed topside c01:20-01:30, fireman Wally Hurst also identified Chief Engineer Bell on deck near the end).

We've also got the tiresome "locked gates in third class" myth which I'll come to later.

Then there is the trivial stuff like Benjamin Guggenheim saying "We are dressed in our best..." (a journalist likely made that one up) and J. J. Astor releasing the dogs from the kennels (one of the deck stewards was most likely responsible).

Covering from the 10-15,000 Belfast workers who built the ship, to the creators, builders, designer, with a review and analysis of the socio-economic factors in the first decade of the 20th century

Out of interest, how do you approach this ? A lot of people outside the UK don't know the full details about the political and religious tensions in Belfast at the time - most of H&W's men were firmly Protestant in religion, British Unionist in politics.

It's worth mentioning to people that the PM Asquith's Liberal government in office in 1912 had just enacted a series of sweeping, controversial measures that laid the grounds for Britain's modern welfare state.

Also, Britain's industrial trade unions, particularly those representing coal miners, railwaymen and mariners, were becoming more powerful and a force to be reckoned with around this time.

examining how British class structure determined life and death of the sinking, and the acceptance of it; versus the American perspective of a country where anything is possible, and Americans determine their own fortune and not accept their hand of fate.

I can't agree with that and I don't believe many published historians of the disaster would either. Flag waving or national exceptionalism is not something that the Titanic community have ever taken seriously or encouraged.

Me, I'm a Scot and admire William Murdoch, I think he was a super bloke. However, it would be contemptuous of me to claim that his nationality made him any better than anyone on the ship that night. It was his actions and strength of character rather than his birthplace that mattered.

Did Britain have a class system in 1912 ? Of course they did but one simply cannot claim that the USA did not have one either. They existed (and still do) in every country in the world. A class system can easily exist in a society without monarchy or nobility.

Thousands of J. J. Astor's tenants in the cramped, disease ridden slum housing he owned in New York certainly would not have regarded him as an egalitarian. Whilst the Guggenheim's were known for their using violence against striking workers (many of them immigrants from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe) at their mines.

Further the USA's immigration laws in 1912 were quite strict and had to be obeyed by British, German, French, Dutch etc ships carrying immigrants. They all had to observe these strict laws segregating different classes of passengers.

Stories about gates in third class (there weren't) and nasty, evil, cowardly limey stewards (thanks Hollywood) having fun keeping people back are just not true. There are many reasons for the massive casualties in third class but locked gates and "Perfidious Albion" are not among them.

I do think one woman represents a good way to join all the factors of the Human Element together and that is the real Margaret Tobin Brown

Personally, I wouldn't go for Margaret Brown. In fact, I would find it impossible to narrow it down to any one particular individual.

If you can find it on the ET Facebook page, look up Kim Kalafus post concerning the Margaret Brown from about a year ago. It's worth reading. He pointed out a ton of holes in her story of standing up to QM Hitchens and "taking command" of Boat No. 6. Curiously, no other survivor in Boat No. 6 backed up Brown's claims, yet it is still taken as gospel ! The truth is she invented it herself.

Whilst we are on the subject, poor QM Hitchen's was not the villain many people have unfairly characterised him as. He was just a frightened, confused man who was way out of his depth that night.

My preference would be for telling of stories from the rank of file crew and/or the often overlooked passengers with interesting personal stories who did not from the usual American, British, Irish or Scandinavian backgrounds. It's long overdue that people heard about those from Japan, Lithuania, Bulgaria, China, Lebanon, Armenia, Poland and Haiti who were aboard the ship.

Good luck with your talk. You will find much material and even some well regarded published historians on ET to assist you if you need it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Titanicmaster

Titanic Historian based on facts not speculation.
Member
May 31, 2021
2
0
1
62
North Carolina
Good evening from North Carolina!

Your email and communication have been most welcome.
You address many good points, and would thus desire to respond and provide some follow up comments.
I copied and pasted your points in Italics.
My responses underneath each of your points.

On the "Futility" angle, be sure to point out that after the Titanic disaster, Morgan Robertson actually changed the description of the ship in his novel to more closely fit that of the "Olympic class".

Hence why the 1912 re-printing matches the Titanic specs so closely!
Interesting feedback about Robertson being anti-Semite. I have a 1912 copy of his book, and will have to re-read and look for those references...especially being a Jew...lol.

The 705 survivors total is wrong. It was widely accepted for decades (and I believed it) but at the turn of the century that figure was subsequently revised to 712. I'm not aware of anyone who has challenged that figure since.

Agreed. I believe the confusion rest with total rescued, those who perished after rescue. I have seen both numbers, and some in-between. Honestly, never focused until now on a person by person review of the passenger & crew survivor list. Do have a list of breakdown by name and in which lifeboat.

I'm glad to read that. That daft coal bunker fire theory has sadly caught people's imaginations in the last few years, despite the overwhelming evidence against it. The "brittle steel" and "faulty rivets" theory also just won't go away either, in spite of lab testing in the nineties proving that they were strong and sound.

You are correct on all points....I find it amusing when these theorists look at the metallurgical data and I simply bring it down to how metal reacts when 2000 tons per square inch collides with the hull. I am a big believer of numerous separated plates with one or two holes between compartments 1-6. The fact that engineering was able to her her afloat for 2.5 hrs (with pumps) when Andrews only gave the ship 90 mins was impressive..

Other myths that people believe but which need to be torpedoed are things like Murdoch being blamed fornot ramming the iceberg head on (they were trained never to ram deliberately things) and reversing the engines (there wasn't time to fully reverse the engines, not all but most historians also now believe he ordered "stop" rather than "full astern"). Murdoch's options were severely limited, he only had seconds to try something and what he chose to do pretty much every other steamship officer of the day regardless of nationality would have done.

You bring up something it seems very few people know or make mention of in this area of the actual time from sighting to collision. In my opinion, Murdoch did not realize that when he called for engines stop and then reverse...he actually cut off power to the center turbine shaft prop behind the ruder, which accounts for the most improvement for sharpness and timeliness of turning the bow. In other words, had he not reversed the engines, he may have missed the berg.

Then we have "the crew were all strangers", actually a lot of them did know each other and many lived on the same streets, had previously served on the same ships before and quite a few were related by blood or marriage.

Agreed...however, it was only those that had been on Olympic, that really knew their way around the ship. I believe one street of families in Southampton lost 10 of the crew.

There are the famous two stories of sacrifice which make people feel all warm and fuzzy inside but which are just not true: Firstly, that the band played until the end (they did not, the sloping deck and list probably forced them to stop sometime between 01:30 and 01:50). Secondly, the engineers all drowning in the engine room (none of them did, a large group of them headed topside 01:20-01:30, fireman Wally Hurst also identified Chief Engineer Bell on deck near the end).

Agree about the band...also, how would Hartley's violin have survived intact, if it had not been put away in its leather covered wooden case, that floated to be retrieved. My theory on engineers who survived had more to do with where they worked on board..those that had flooded compartments went on deck, versus those that were told they must stay to damp the boilers and keep the dynamos going...The slant was not noticeable as much in the rear 1/3 of the ship...and thus kept at their jobs until mins before the end.

Then there is the trivial stuff like Benjamin Guggenheim saying "We are dressed in our best..." (a journalist likely made that one up) and J. J. Astor releasing the dogs from the kennels (one of the deck stewards was most likely responsible).

Completely agree with all you say on this matter.

Out of interest, how do you approach this ? A lot of people outside the UK don't know the full details about the political and religious tensions in Belfast at the time - most of H&W's men were firmly Protestant in religion, British Unionist in politics.

In this new presentation, I will attempt to demonstrate the day to day life of workers in the H&W shipyard, from riveter crew, to journeyman, to specialist workers, carpenters etc. focusing on the rules of a 6 day week work, with 8 mins a day break to use the loo, pay levels etc. I do not think it prudent for the presentation to go into the religious and political turbulence and changes occurring at that time in England, (this has more to do with keeping my presentation to an hour with questions)

It's worth mentioning to people that the PM Asquith's Liberal government in office in 1912 had just enacted a series of sweeping, controversial measures that laid the grounds for Britain's modern welfare state. Also, Britain's industrial trade unions, particularly those representing coal miners, railwaymen and mariners, were becoming more powerful and a force to be reckoned with around this time.


These are all very good and relevant points you state that was going on at that time, and they were critical changes for the working class in England at the beginning of the 20th century.

I can't agree with that and I don't believe many published historians of the disaster would either. Flag waving or national exceptionalism is not something that the Titanic community have ever taken seriously or encouraged.

Please allow me to clarify what I intended to say about class structure between Anglo and American. I am not inferring what you state about flag waving or national exceptionalism. I was trying to point put that the hundreds of years of class structure subliminally allowed many passengers to accept their place and God's fate.

and not try to save themselves. Americans generally don't let tradition get in the way of survival. Again, you may disagree with this, but do believe there is a element of acceptance rather than fight for survival that occurred that cold night in April

Me, I'm a Scot and admire William Murdoch, I think he was a super bloke. However, it would be contemptuous of me to claim that his nationality made him any better than anyone on the ship that night. It was his actions and strength of character rather than his birthplace that mattered.

Yes...of course. I am not inferring that who a person was, or where they came from, made the difference in their behavior and actions that fateful night....other than Ismay calmly finding a place in a boat. Courage, selflessness and leadership was demonstrated by those that could.

I do personally believe that Capt Smith went into shock, and could not make critical command decisions, or take control, hence why one side of the ship was women & children ONLY, and the other, was women & children first, if no available, then men may enter. Strong leadership would have enforced maximize seating per lifeboat, rather than say it would be too much weight for the lifeboat to handle) and send one off with 28 that could hold 48.

Did Britain have a class system in 1912 ? Of course they did but one simply cannot claim that the USA did not have one either. They existed (and still do) in every country in the world. A class system can easily exist in a society without monarchy or nobility.

Agree...although different than in England, America had a class structure that included the negro and then works it way up...by where you came from. (immigrant) Would also agree that it still exists to this day regardless of monarchy or nobility.

Thousands of J. J. Astor's tenants in the cramped, disease ridden slum housing he owned in New York certainly would not have regarded him as an egalitarian. Whilst the Guggenheim's were known for their using violence against striking workers (many of them immigrants from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe) at their mines.

Further the USA's immigration laws in 1912 were quite strict and had to be obeyed by British, German, French, Dutch etc ships carrying immigrants. They all had to observe these strict laws segregating different classes of passengers.

Stories about gates in third class (there weren't) and nasty, evil, cowardly limey stewards (thanks Hollywood) having fun keeping people back are just not true. There are many reasons for the massive casualties in third class but locked gates and "Perfidious Albion" are not among them.


Again, I think you bring up absolutely excellent factual information about the aspects of the rich and powerful individuals, and the results of the human inequalities that were the reality of those days and times. In my presentation I shall touch on this, as it affect the bottom 3/4 of the pyramid of social structure on both continents.

Personally, I wouldn't go for Margaret Brown. In fact, I would find it impossible to narrow it down to any one particular individual.

Good..this is what I need to reconsider, and why I wrote the post, and why you took the time and effort to respond!

If you can find it on the ET Facebook page, look up Kim Kalafus post concerning the Margaret Brown from about a year ago. It's worth reading. He pointed out a ton of holes in her story of standing up to QM Hitchens and "taking command" of Boat No. 6. Curiously, no other survivor in Boat No. 6 backed up Brown's claims, yet it is still taken as gospel ! The truth is she invented it herself.


I never gave to much credence about about the specifics you make mention of reference MTB. In my research, this falls under hearsay..or should I say, Shesay!

Whilst we are on the subject, poor QM Hitchen's was not the villain many people have unfairly characterized him as. He was just a frightened, confused man who was way out of his depth that night.


In truth, cannot that also be said about Boxhall also.

My preference would be for telling of stories from the rank of file crew and/or the often overlooked passengers with interesting personal stories who did not from the usual American, British, Irish or Scandinavian backgrounds. It's long overdue that people heard about those from Japan, Lithuania, Bulgaria, China, Lebanon, Armenia, Poland and Haiti who were aboard the ship.

I shall endeavor to seriously consider your feedback about looking at the rank & file of the crew as well as as you point out the forgotten passengers from all the countries you make note of. However, I must temper this need from our thorough & detailed knowledge of the Titanic, and put ourselves into the mind of the novice or neophyte Titanic attendee, that is looking to be entertained for an hour.

This is different that when I presented a 3 hour class at NC State continuing education.

Your suggestion, in my opinion, would be most well suited for an academic presentation than an after dinner evening presentation. Perhaps, I may write two outlines and share between the two types of presentation

Good luck with your talk. You will find much material and even some well regarded published historians on ET to assist you if you need it.


Thank you for your most insightful comments and clarifications.

Most kind regards,

Frederick