May I lend this advice? Keep your TITANIC *salvage* opinions to yourself, should you choose to join/retain THS membership.
Yes folks, I could go into depth about the *greatest* of double standard which occured. It pertains to an entrusted TITANIC enthusiast, a very well-known TITANIC historian, and the TITANIC Historical Society.
There is no need to stir up the soothing coals...I can live with the fact that an acceptance was granted because of ones' talent...but how do they live with T.H.emS.elves ? ? ?
They have some good pieces in the "Commutator", but I had to discontinue my membership with them because they were getting too pricy for my taste. And I was never comfortable with the fact that they replaced the headstone at Fred Fleet's gravesite with the one there now...basically, it's like saying, "This grave sponsored by the THS". Too showy.
I've thought a lot about the subject of the gravestones and think it really isn't a cut and dry thing. There are several different factors that mean different things where different survivors and victims are concerned. For instance, in the case of Fleet, he died destitute with no family and his grave lay unmarked for many years. Such an important figure in Titanic lore shouldn't have been left with an unmarked grave. While I also think its a little cheesy to add the name of the Titanic organization that placed the marker, I'd rather see SOMETHING marking Fleet's grave than nothing at all.
Quite different is the case of Milton Long. The family had placed the markers they wanted and as Milton was an only child, there were no family members left to object when changes/additions were made to the family stones.
There are cases like Mary Kelly (Mrs. J.J. Heslin) and even Nella Goldenberg, where the graves are unmarked yet there are many family members that could afford to place a headstone. If the families, for whatever reason, have decided not to do so, I can't imagine an organization doing so in good conscience. That decision should rest entirely with the family. If approached by an organization about placing one, the family should have complete say-so in what is inscribed on the stone.
There are others--Mrs. Wren in Canada, Nora Fleming in Pennsylvania, etc. that left no family and have no markers of any sort and weren't major figures in the Titanic saga. I'd think it a noble deed to place a marker at those graves, but again would hope they would simply give the vital information on the individual with perhaps an inscription saying "Titanic Survivor." Anything beyond that is showy and grandstanding.
Danielle, if you should still decide to join THS after reading the responses, you can do so for less than $100. A basic membership is only $50 which covers the cost of producing and shipping their fine magazine. While THS is considered the first and (in some people's eyes) probably the most prestigious, there are other fine organizations as well. Many here are members and contributors to other societies which also have their own fine magazines. THS sponsors many events and is currently raising money to build a bigger, permanent museum. The hierarchy of the organization is pro-Lord and anti-salvage and not very tolerant of opposing views, as has been hinted at here. I am pleased to be a member, but have had my share of problems as well. I won't discourage you from joining, as it could well be a marvelous experience for you and I would not like to deny you that opportunity. At least you will have access to purchasing some very nice books and mementos that are not elsewhere available except maybe on Ebay or Amazon occasionally.