Dr Frank Blackmarr worked as a physician in Chicago and was a passenger onboard the Carpathia when it received the distress signal from the Titanic. During the voyage, Blackmarr had struck up a friendship with Harold Cottam, the Marconi operator and he reported that it was Cottam that alerted him to the fact of the collision. Blackmarr clearly realising the significance of the situation recorded his observations of the ensuing rescue.
As well as helping with the care of survivors Blackmarr was one of the first to give details of the sinking to the press. Almost certainly without the knowledge or assent of Captain Rostron, he wrote the Marconi massage, transmitted by Cottam on 17th April to the Chicago Tribune Newspaper:
Chicago Tribune Chicago Illinois
Carpathia pickd up seven hundred Titanics mostly women Over
Two thousand lost iceberg Continuous mass twenty five
mile Chicagoans this ship well Dr F. h. Blackmarr
On the receipt, Blackmarr noted in his own handwriting, "I had to bribe the operator to get this out." The message was published in the Tribune on 18th April, 1912.
In addition to his own observations, Blackmarr elicited lengthy statements from four survivors. He annotated these statements and illustrated the resulting scrapbook with photographs. It is believed that Blackmarr used the scrapbook and photographs in lectures in the Chicago area in the months following the sinking.
Blackmarr died in 1958. The unique collection of documents and photographs passing, in the early 1960s, to a Chicago family. It was found in an attic in March 1998 and auctioned by Dunnings Auction House, Elgin, Illinois for $50,000 the same year. James T. Harper, a member of the Titanic Historical Society, was given access to the collection in April 1998 and transcribed the documents before they were sold.