Unidentified bodies


Beckie Goodwin

Does anyone have any information on how it was determined which unidentified bodies were
buried at sea and which were buried in one of the Halifax cemeteries. Fairview and the other
cemeteries have quite a few buried with no identification. Any information would be helpful.

Dec 12, 1999
Dear Beckie,

Unidentified bodies that were badly decomposed were the ones that were selected to be buried at sea. When relatives on land learned what was happening, there was an outcry. White Star officials wired that all remaining bodies were to be retained, regardless of condition, and brought to shore.

Michael Findlay

Anita Dahlberg (Anita)

I've been reading the list of unidentified bodies, and it seems to me that there's a lot of information that could identify several of the bodies. Does anyone know how much work they put in this? Are there any of this list been identified today?

Talira Greycrest

In a dream I had on the 100th anniversary, I could have sworn one of the victims was trying to tell me that her body (or the body of one of her sisters) had been recovered but never identified. It so sad to know that so many bodies remain unidentified. There are graves with no names on them, just numbers and the date of death. Surely there must be some way we can identify these people. They deserve to have their names on their headstones.


Apr 29, 2015
Toronto, ON, Canada
... Surely there must be some way we can identify these people...
There are several threads on this subject from (approximately) 2001 related to exhumations that attempted to identify a small number of victims through DNA testing. Unfortunately, because of drainage in the cemetery, there was little or nothing left of some of them.
Forensic Identification of Titanic Victims

Otherwise, if DNA could have been obtained, I think the science of DNA and availability of tests has advanced so much that there would not be much doubt that relatives could be found for all of them. Millions of people have now had DNA tests performed by companies like AncestryDNA (who are apparently about to reach 3 million people tested on their own), FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, and LivingDNA.
DNA for Genealogy
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Oct 4, 2016
Tattoos, jewelry, clothing, dental work... and still so many people went unrecognized or unclaimed. This is incredibly sad. But my best guess is for many families, it was either cost prohibitive for family members to seek out the bodies or it was a language barrier problem, or both. With the passage of years, fewer living relatives would even be around to make the effort. Today, antecedents simply wouldn't know enough about a great grandparent's life to make a connection. DNA would be the only hope. Unfortunately, it's been 107 years and bodies have disintegrated.

I also got to thinking about my own family. I have no children and a deceased husband. I have no tattoos. I do have living siblings. If I had died in a disaster back in 1912, could my closest sister identify me based on what I was wearing? Not likely. We are middle aged women and haven't lived in the same house for 40 years. She doesn't know what I wear from day to day, including jewelry. I suspect the same problems arose among many family members of Titanic victims.

Of course, now we have DNA. But we still must hope there's enough to identify, unlike so many after 9/11.
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