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Researching the Wreck of the RMS Titanic

Compiled by Mark F. Hall, Digital Reference Specialist

Photograph of front page of The world 16 April 1912 headlining the sinking of the Titanic

Photograph of front page of
The World 16 April 1912 headlining the sinking of the Titanic.
1 photographic print.
Prints and Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

The sinking of the ocean liner RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 was one of the most dramatic events of the twentieth century. In a mere four hours after striking an iceberg, the largest passenger ship yet built sank while on its maiden voyage, claiming the lives of over 1,500 persons. Many of those lost were from the upper crust of British and American society. The sinking of the Titanic, which had been popularly regarded as unsinkable, punctured the aura of man's triumph over nature that had grown out of the Industrial Revolution and the Progressive Era.

This page builds on an article describing Library of Congress holdings concerning the Titanic, which can be found in the May 1998 issue of the Library of Congress Information Bulletin. Many of the items described in this article are now available online.

On the Library of Congress Web site:

Search the term "Titanic" or "Titanic Steamship 1910 1920" in the Prints & Photographs Division catalog and then select "Preview Images" to see thumbnails of those images which have been digitized. Then click on the image to see a larger version.

The New York Herald coverage of the disaster can be viewed in the American Treasures of the Library of Congress online exhibit.

The Chronicling America site allows you to search and view selected historical American newspaper pages. From the Search Newspaper Pages, select "All Newspapers," use "Enter Search" with " a phrase" using the term "Titanic."

The cover page of an example of Titanic-related sheet music can be found on the Publications on the Hebraic and Judaic Collections page for the Library's Illustrated Guide to Hebraic Collections.

Links to a variety of other digitized Titanic-related items from the Library's collections are available on the Today in History entry for April 14th.

Link disclaimerExternal Sites:

The American and British inquiries into the disaster can be accessed on the Web site of the Titanic Inquiry Project.

The entire text of Morgan Robertson's novella "Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan" can be read online. Robertson's 1898 novella, written fourteen years before the Titanic sank, tells the story of of a grand "unsinkable" ocean liner -- the largest in the world -- that on a cold April night on a voyage across the North Atlantic strikes an iceberg and sinks. Most of the passengers, many of them rich and famous, perished because there were not enough lifeboats. This fictional ship's description (800 feet long, 70,000 tons, top speed of 25 knots) is remarkably similar to the real Titanic (882 feet long, 66,000 tons, top speed 24 knots). The most chilling feature of Robertson's book, however, is the name he gave his fictional ship -- the Titan.

Another eeire coincidence can be found in W. T. Stead's story, "From the Old World to the New," which was published as the Christmas edition of the Review of Reviews for 1892. In the story a White Star Line vessel, The Majestic, rescues the passengers of another ship after a collision with an iceberg. 20 years later, Stead himself would go down with the Titanic.

The Encyclopedia Titanica site contains a wide variety of materials on the subject. Access to the site is free but advertiser-supported; for a fee, researchers can access special features and use the site without viewing advertisements and pop-up windows.

The Titanic Newspaper Article Archive grants access to thousands of original newspaper articles, including stories on the building of the Titanic, its launch and eventual sinking as well as complete coverage of its discovery.


Eyewitness Accounts:

Beasley, Lawrence. The Loss of the SS Titanic, Its Story and Its Lessons. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1912. [Catalog Record]

Gracie, Archibald. The Truth About the Titanic. New York: M. Kennerley, 1913. [Catalog Record]

Thayer, John B. The Sinking of the SS Titanic. Philadelphia, 1940. [Catalog Record]

Winocour, Jack, ed. The Story of the Titanic, as Told by its Survivors. New York: Dover [1960] [Catalog Record]

Secondary Sources:

Butler, Daniel Allen. Unsinkable: the Full Story of the RMS Titanic. Mechanicsburg, PA : Stackpole Books, c1998. [Catalog Record]

Eaton, John P. and Charles A. Haas. Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Norton, 1986. [Catalog Record]

Lord, Walter. A Night to Remember. New York: Holt [1955] [Catalog Record]

Lynch, Don. Titanic: An Illustrated History. New York: Hyperion, 1992. [Catalog Record]

For Younger Readers:

Adams, Simon. Titanic. New York: DK Pub., 1999. [Catalog Record]

Ballard, Robert D. with Nan Froman ; paintings by Ken Marschall. Finding the Titanic. New York: Scholastic, c1993. [Catalog Record]

Dubowski, Mark. Titanic : the Disaster that Shocked the World! New York: DK Pub., 1998. [Catalog Record]

You may also wish to search the Library of Congress online catalog under the subject heading "Titanic (Steamship)" for a list of other book titles of potential interest. You may be able to locate many of these titles through your local public library or through interlibrary loan.


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  July 17, 2012
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