When the Great Ship Went Down
April 14, 2012, marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. From the moment in 1908 that the White Star Line announced construction of the Titanic to the weeks and months following the 1912 disaster, the ship made headlines.
By clicking on the links in this story, you can see actual Ohio newspaper accounts of 1909-1912 that reveal how people marveled at the Titanic's record-breaking size and unparalleled luxury and reacted to its shocking end, plus a 2010 interview with the grandson of a Titanic survivor who lived in Ohio for many years.
A Floating Palace
Construction of the Titanic began March 31, 1909, and work continued for three years. The Dec. 30, 1909, Marion Daily Mirror featured images of what the finished ship would look like and commented on the significance of the Titanic and its sister ship, the Olympic: "Their launching will signalize a most important era in marine achievement, for they will be by all odds the largest vessels in the world." The Titanic was "a floating palace," according to the April 19, 1912, Mount Vernon Democratic Banner.
A number of Ohioans, former Ohioans and people headed for Ohio were on board when the Titanic steamed out of Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912, bound for New York City. On April 14 at 11:40 p.m., the ship believed by some to be "unsinkable" collided with an iceberg in the northern Atlantic Ocean and sunk a few hours later, taking 1,517 lives.
Nine-year-old Frank Goldsmith, emigrating from England to America with his parents aboard the Titanic, survived along with his mother, although his father died. Goldsmith, who subsequently grew up in Detroit, lived in Mansfield, Ohio, for many years. To see a 2010 COSI video in which Tom Goldsmith recalls his grandfather's memories of the Titanic, click here.
Ohio Papers Followed Titanic Story
As more information became available following the disaster, Ohio papers were filled with news of the Titanic.
A headline on the front page of the April 23, 1912, Mount Vernon Democratic Banner read "Hear of Negligence in the Probing Regarding Titanic Disaster."
As the public and government officials tried to make sense of the tragedy, there were accusations of neglect on the part of the captain, crew and the White Star Line according to the April 26, 1912, Mount Vernon Democratic Banner. Was the captain trying to break a speed record and going too fast for the dangerous waters? Did the crew ignore warnings of icebergs from nearby ships?
A story in the April 26, 1912, Perrysburg Journal asked whether the White Star Line had failed to equip the ship with enough lifeboats.
Some assigned some blame for the enormous loss of human life to nearby ships such as the Californian, which was closer to the Titanic than it claimed and might have helped save more lives, according to a story in the May 3, 1912, Perrysburg Journal.
U.S. Senate Investigates
As reported in the April 30, 1912, Mount Vernon Democratic Banner and the May 31, 1912, Perrysburg Journal, the U.S. Senate spent several weeks investigating the tragedy.
The final report assigned blame, praised heroes and made recommendations for future voyages that would put life and safety above luxury and speed, according to the May 28, 1912, Washington Times.
See More 1912 Accounts Online
Interested in learning more about the Titanic from accounts in historic newspapers? Visit Chronicling America, a free keyword-searchable newspaper database hosted by the Library of Congress, and start searching! For search tips, check out http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/topics/titanic.html and http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/topics/titanicsinking.html.