Welcome! The Titanic Historical Society, Inc. (THS), established in 1963, is the premier source for Titanic and White Star Line information. THS is the original and largest Titanic society in the world. Nearing the half-century mark, our mission of preserving the great ship's history can be seen in our outstanding publications, Titanic Museum and annual themed events.
Our experienced and knowledgeable officers and members include maritime historians, authors, artists, etc. who have been consultants and/or actively worked on numerous Robert Ballard (Nat Geo) and James Cameron (Fox/Discovery) projects, not to mention History Channel investigations et al., the THS has already proved itself a worthy source of qualified researchers. In addition, the THS has one of the largest available Titanic/White Star related photographic archives in the world.
People of all ages and all countries who love the ship and her story are invited to join THS as members and receive the incomparable Titanic Commutator. The Titanic Museum's superb collection in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, was the first permanent exhibition of rare Titanic artifacts and documents donated by survivors. Become a member, tour our Museum and visit our Museum Shop online or in person. Enter curious, leave inspired.
Here we are at the end of a year again. This year, 2016, flew by. It seems only a few weeks ago that I was enjoying tomatoes picked fresh in my garden.
Among the selected articles featured is an enjoyable record: Third, Second and First Class as described by Dr. C. H. Beaumont, Surgeon on RMS Majestic (II). It is an entertaining read and amazing how times have changed. Dr. Beaumont was for many years one of the principal medical officers of the White Star Line. In his trips over decades on Cretic, Celtic, Majestic (I), Oceanic (II), Olympic, Britannic (II), Cymric, Cedric, Megantic and Majestic (II), he made many friends. Excerpted from his book, Ships and People, published circa 1927, Dr. Beaumont's experiences and his own observations of passenger habits, immigrant cultures and customs that he encountered in all classes is fascinating. Nothing has been edited or revised to be politically correct. His take on the first few decades of the 20th century provides a glimpse into the social history of that era.
The Rise and Fall of Pier 54 and the Chelsea Piers––The 1908 Annual Report, City of New York stated: The Chelsea Piers were distinctive––the most modern structural and mechanical innovations combined with ornamental pier shed facades. "More elaborate from an architectural point of view than any other built in the city of New York…"
The THS Convention Boston 2016 was a wonderful weekend thanks to the work of the committee and volunteers. Illustrated in dozens of great photos, we included everyone which was a challenge, plus show all the various programs, enjoy; relive it, and for members who didn't come, hope to see you next time.
The Great Gale of 1898, a natural disaster of epic proportions, was also known as the Portland Gale, due to the loss of the largest steamer in eastern New England. The weather on the afternoon of November 26, 1898, showed a light wind with a yellowish sky. Hours later, out of the blue, a monstrous storm suddenly hit causing havoc and death. From New York to Maine over 400 vessels, 5,000 homes and buildings were destroyed and hundreds of lives were lost as the storm raged for 36 hours. No future storm caused as much damage because the system of transportation of freight and people changed. The fleets of steamers and small craft plying up and down the New England coast have vanished from our coastal marine highways. The 1898 gale could also be called "the perfect storm" of the 19th century.
Senan Molony presents two thought-provoking articles: the first is about Alfred Crawford, a crucial Titanic witness but many will be unfamiliar with his name because the long-bemoaned absence of a simple photograph has militated against his getting due prominence. He gave succinct, striking evidence, which is relatively rare in a witness. He is particularly important in relation to the mystery ship, seen off the port bow as the Titanic was sinking.
Spring came three weeks early in the Connecticut River Valley. This time last year we were buried under mounds of snow. Mother Nature has a way of righting the ship. No matter how much we talk about extremes in the weather, it seems to average out in the end.
In this issue we are fortunate to begin an original, in-depth series: Belfast-Built Ships - vessels that are famous as well as the lesser known that are part of Harland & Wolff's heritage. Author and THS member, Paul Louden-Brown begins with the Dominion liner, Canada. The story of Canada is a tale of unfulfilled potential. Had Dominion been permitted to continue its development of the Canadian and Boston trades it is certain the company would have become the dominate force, particularly in the Canadian passenger trade. Instead a name and business that had taken almost thirty years to establish was practically thrown away allowing rivals, in particular Cunard, the opportunity of establishing themselves in the service.
Samson is a name associated with strength and, as a vessel, she was well-named. She had a remarkable history but her notoriety was not only related by our readers to her connection to the Titanic sinking or seal hunting, though a pioneer in that field, but also her Samson-like qualities were proven when Admiral Richard E. Byrd was planning his first voyage to the Antarctic.
This issue of the Commutator, the first quarter of the 2016 membership year, we are pleased to present a pre-publication exclusive. The THS normally doesn’t publicize one book over another as we try to be fair and balanced and let the reader judge a non-fiction work. However in this case, when it applies to new Titanic photographs, yes, you are reading it correctly, new Titanic photographs. The Bell and Kempster pictures have been on display in the UK and will be published in book form, Titanic Unseen, Images from the Bell and Kempster Albums, later this year. One of the authors, Senan Molony, sent a sampling of illustrations and answers the question about the number of her masthead lights purportedly seen on the night of April 14/15 1912.
Two years before the tragic sinking of the Collins liner, Arctic, a Congregational minister, Reverend John S. C. Abbott booked passage on her and during the transatlantic voyage he kept a daily record of events that occurred on board. Abbott’s diary entries were published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in June of 1852 and provide a rare glimpse of what it was like to travel the Atlantic in the 1850s.
Two new, strikingly beautiful, custom designs. Full color wraparound images on white ceramic mugs (dishwasher safe). Titanic Centennial Memorial mug has matching forest green inside. Titanic Historical Society and Titanic Museum double design mug is enhanced with a royal blue inside.
The age of wireless in its infancy between 1901 and 1912 is the primary theme of this issue and how the effects of the sinking of Republic (II) in 1909 affected attitudes in the intervening time before the Titanic disaster. Guglielmo Marconi in the early years tried to sell the idea of the efficacy of wireless radio to shipping companies that gradually adopted his communication system.
Marconi and the Titanic: Beatrice O’Brien Marconi and her daughter climbed the winding stairs of the tower at Eaglehurst, their family estate with a grandstand view of all the passing maritime activity on the Solent. The black bulk of an enormous ship glided silently. Mother and daughter waved and dozens of silks flickered along the rail in response. The bronze colored letters on the bow read TITANIC. She wished she were on Titanic. She was supposed to be on board. Guglielmo Marconi and his beautiful wife were invited by the White Star Line to be guests on the maiden voyage. It was not to be.
Who Watched Titanic Sink? There are two ways of looking at Californian evidence. You could say Titanic approached Californian, hit an iceberg, and sank in full view. Stanley Lord connived with some of his officers to cover the matter up, but a few honest crew members brought out the truth. Or, you could believe an innocuous cargo ship came up to the edge of the ice flow, waited an hour or so, and then moved on through. After learning of the disaster, some of the crew put a new interpretation on to what they had seen that night as perfectly normal.
Before the Internet took off or search engines created, and newspaper and city archives were digitalized, the question of what happened to Fred Fleet's mother after she arrived in Springfield, Massachusetts hadn't been answered. Thanks to Don Lynch in Remembering Frederick Fleet––Epilogue, he found the answer. Nearly everyone that has read about Titanic knows who Frederick Fleet is. The Titanic Commutator in 1993, featured Remembering Frederick Fleet by Edward Kamuda. During the brief period in 1964 when Fleet and Kamuda exchanged letters, Fleet did not think his life or his mementos from Titanic were of any interest. They were ordinary in his mind. Because he gave what he had to Ed less than a year before his death, one more link to Titanic history was preserved.
Peter Padfield, a noted author on books about sailing and the sea and a man who spent years working in the merchant service, looks with a sailor's eye on the Titanic disaster. His book, Titanic and the Californian, refutes the popularly held theory upheld by two Courts of Inquiry––that the Californian was within sight of Titanic when she sank and Californian's inaction despite rockets which she saw, allegedly from the Titanic, suggests that the Board of Trade, to cover up its own inadequacies, deliberately found a scapegoat, Captain Lord, and that Lord Mersey, President of the British Court, had prejudged the case from the beginning.
It was a brutal winter in New England and Spring blossoms were a welcome sight. The Titanic Centennial Memorial Garden and Walkway survived nicely; the deep snow cover insulated the shrubs for the most part and they didn’t succumb to winterkill from the severe cold. The memorial wreath and flowers placed on April 15th (covers) were a reminder not only of remembering those who were lost on Titanic but also of God’s annual renewal of life.
Some letters we have received over time involved questions about the immigrant experience and life on a voyage to America from Europe. Was it terrible? Two articles in this issue speak to conditions: Steerage Class Accommodations - Cunard Steamship Line 1879, written by a reporter who decided to travel from New York to Liverpool to see for himself if it was as described. Steerage Class Conditions - A Report of the immigration Condition 1911 based on information obtained by special agents traveling as steerage passengers on twelve different transatlantic steamers.
Downton Abbey fans will understand and appreciate, Bastion of Masculinity, men-only activities among the elite 1st class in the smoking room on Titanic’s last night.
Some newspaper accounts of the Titanic disaster were notorious for exaggeration, misrepresentation and outright falsehoods that were printed to sell papers. Often personal reputations were ruined and some fabrications live to this day. Lisa McDougald sets the record straight about the Fortune family.
The Dedication of the Titanic Centennial Memorial Garden and Walkway takes precedence in this issue. It is the result of work that began five years ago and is the largest project ever undertaken by the Titanic Historical Society.
In the words of THS Vice President, Paul Phaneuf, delivered on September 20, 2014:
“We are gathered here today in the peaceful surroundings of beautiful Oak Grove Cemetery in Springfield for the dedication of this long awaited project. In 2009, our beloved founder, Ed Kamuda, Karen and myself, met to discuss this project. Our vision was for a lasting memorial to Titanic which we would dedicate on the 100th Anniversary. We envisioned a beautiful black granite monument which would be a lasting memorial for future generations. I contacted John Mikuszewski of Notre Dame Memorials in South Hadley and with his expertise under the direction of Ed and Karen, a design was formulated for this beautiful memorial. Despite two setbacks, one of me being severely injured in a fall in late 2009, and a refusal from historic Springfield Cemetery where our beloved Springfield resident Milton Clyde Long was interred, the project continued under the watchful eye of Ed and Karen. Oak Grove Cemetery in the center of the city was suggested and a meeting was scheduled with the Board of Directors and John Huffman, the superintendent. With their blessing and their donation of this plot of land, the memorial came to fruition and was dedicated in April of 2012. Plans were then made for a beautiful landscaped park around the memorial which was designed by Gary Courchesne and his staff of G & H Landscape Design of Holyoke. As the work progressed, Karen was here each day coordinating this labor of love. I would never imagined when this all began in 2009, that this would be the final resting place of our founder and president, Ed Kamuda, who dedicated his entire life to preserve the history and memory of Titanic.
Today, we gather to honor the memory of all who sailed on that beautiful ship. I truly believe that Ed is home with all the passengers and crew of the Titanic saying 'well done' to all of us for this beautiful memorial and landscaped park.”
This journal is devoted primarily to remembering THS president, founder, husband and best friend, Edward Stephen Kamuda who passed into Eternity on April 13, 2014.
In the words of one of Ed's favorite heroes, John Wayne: "A man's got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job." Ed Kamuda was a man who lived by a code––he had a clear sense of right and wrong and was consistent in what he believed. In his life and his work, he lived core values that are––honor, perseverance, and commitment.
Ed's life was taken away from us too soon and it is hard to understand why tragic things like this happen to such good people. However, this is a question without an answer and we should not dwell on his loss but his legacy––of founding the Titanic Historical Society (originally Titanic Enthusiasts of America) despite obstacles, of being instrumental in preserving Titanic history when history and tradition were out of fashion in the turbulent social upheaval of the 1960s and remembering the remarkable things Ed accomplished.
This issue of The Titanic Commutator is a special one, not only to the amount of pages dedicated to illustrating the 50th anniversary convention but also a tribute to those who participated. The five memorable days cannot be duplicated, it was a magical time.
Those of us who live outside of the South, the warmth, courtesy and general hospitality received was a characteristic many of us are not used to. Combined with the mild, sunny weather, the location and hotel was a dream venue. Letters received in the few weeks after the convention confirm the same, some are in the column, SeaPoste.
The convention's theme revolved around the THS, its accomplishments and the talent and knowledge of its officers and members.
President Ed Kamuda opened Wednesday evening with a video about THS's 50 years. For the newer members, to learn that the THS was involved in the first Titanic model kit, one of the first TV programs researching Titanic, finding Britannic, publishing the first crew list and the names, addresses of the victims in Halifax, conventions with survivors, Titanic Heritage Tours and more firsts.
In reflecting on events related to RMS Titanic and the Titanic Historical Society in this 50th anniversary year, two articles in this issue show how much has changed––one is how and why the Titanic Historical Society began 50 years ago, Titanic Historical Society: The Idea, Foundation and Founding; its influence on people worldwide and what is happening in 2013–an incredible contrast.
Its mission, when it was formed in the Kamuda residence in 1963, with odds against it succeeding, was to remember and preserve the history of Titanic after learning that a survivor, a baker, had died alone and the apartment's owner tossed out his Titanic mementos. The act of discarding history was the motivation that began what eventually became the Titanic Historical Society.
In the story, Titanic II Global Launch, Professor Clive Palmer, a successful entrepreneur from Australia, formally announced plans to build Titanic II. He is serious about his project because rather than seek investors as in past failed ventures, he is putting up his own money. A report on the activities in New York.
Since he left his home in Norway to visit his children in North Dakota, from England, John Nysveen had written “All is well” on a telegram to his wife. He intended to travel to the United States on S.S. Megantic but the ship did not sail because of a shortage of coal. Days passed––April 11, April 12, April 13, April 14––John Nysveen had disappeared––there was no sign of him. There was no reason to believe that John was on the Titanic, and the family thought that he had left on another ship before Titanic's voyage. Also, his name was not on the passenger lists published in the newspapers. Unfortunately, Nysveen was on Titanic and Sergio Martinez Cotos does a remarkable job researching the biography of a forgotten Third-class passenger in the biographical piece: Johannes Hansen Nysveen: A Story of Life, Truth and Tragedy
As this is written in January 2013, an important milestone in Titanic history has been reached––the Titanic Historical Society is 50. We hope you will join us on September 4 through 8, 2013 at THS's 50th Anniversary Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where we'll reflect and remember. Latest details are inside the issue and on our website under Events.
Five decades has brought an incredible change in the Titanic world. The ship has become a worldwide phenomenon. It wasn't always that way. It's hard to believe that in the summer of 1963 at the Kamuda residence in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, a handful of young men struggled for an identity for a new organization whose mission was to preserve the history of Titanic. It fell, for the most part, on deaf ears. Who cared about a ship disaster fifty years ago when there have been so many important events since? The 1960s were a time of civic disruption across the country and a dismissal of history and tradition. The lack of interest by the general public was discouraging but it was also an opportunity. At this time Edward Kamuda and a few THS members had been corresponding with Titanic survivors who, at that time in their later years, were thrilled that anyone cared about their experiences a half century ago. Permanent friendships were formed. Their personal accounts were written in their own hand which became the foundation for articles in this journal that was mailed to members in the United States, Canada, the UK and Europe and thus, the beginnings of preserving Titanic history and reaching many people.
As you can see from past Commutators featured on the front and back covers, there are many Titanic and related subjects that were introduced decades ago that became the foundation for research for additional information which had a ripple effect. More knowledge was found and built on the shoulders of earlier Titanic Commutators–– Persistence by a handful of people in the early years is a source of pride.
Titanic Dinner Parties Category
Gathered into one category for easy review and purchase, here all the items for hosting an excellent Titanic Dinner Party. Be sure to set your table with our Titanic Dinner Package, sold in single place settings or packs of 12. Present your guests with memorable party favors like the mini Titanic keychain or Titanic ornament. Decorate with reproduction documents and put on the original music as was played aboard the Titanic. Click here to browse this category, or find it any time from the side menu in our Museum Store.
The THS staff is away for the Christmas holiday and be back before the New Year. You can still order as usual from the store; purchases/renewals, etc. will be recorded but not be processed right away.
Best Wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The Titanic Historical Society is celebrating the half century mark with two magniﬁcent 50th Anniversary lapel pins in striking goldtone or enamel. The pins highlight THS's 50 years and RMS Titanic with a brilliant gold 50 and a majestic Titanic in the center. Topped by the THS logo adding a distinctive accent, the important dates 1963-2013 compliment the design.
Text reads: Titanic Historical Society, Inc., Preserving Titanic and White Star Line history for a half century, The original Titanic Society, www.titanichistoricalsociety.org/ are raised letters imprinted on the base on the goldtone pin.
These are truly beautiful pins and an instant collectible. Goldtone pin is 1.5 inches X 1.25 inches or 3.8 cm x 3.2 cm. Enamel pin is 2 inches X 1.50 or 5 cm x 4 cm.Click here to Purchase.
In George Behe's latest book, passengers and crew describe in their own words the Titanic disaster––in postcards, letters, diary entries that were written before during and after Titanic's maiden voyage. Some of these documents were composed by people who later lost their lives in the sinking and represent the last communications that they had with their friends and family at home. Their personal correspondence provides an unparalleled description of the days onboard while Titanic was at sea. Subsequent missives tell of the horror and heartbreak they experienced with the loss of loved ones.Click here to read more.
A unique legal drama and an entirely new perspective on some of the most famous maritime disasters in history
Over a period of four years, four ships and 4,000 lives were lost under different circumstances—but one individual was linked to them all: John Charles Bigham, Lord Mersey, who was appointed to head the inquiries into each disaster. Mersey is often referred to in contemptuous terms as a "company man," or a government stooge. Is this the whole truth?Click here to read more.
Back in print, the author spent years researching the life of Wallace Hartley, conducting interviews with remaining members of his family. The bravery of the band and their leader playing hymns as the ship went down is one of the most poignant aspects of the worst disaster to happen to the ill-fated British passenger liner. Who comprised the band? Who was Wallace Hartley and where did he come from?Click here to read more.
A sumptuous and delightful collection of postcards tracing the illustrious White Star Line. This evocative book explores the colorful story in personal postcards and messages from passengers and crew to the careers of the vessels in peacetime and in war.
The model kit of the S.S. France is one of the truly beautiful ocean liners. She represented the ultimate in ocean liners featuring the newest and latest innovations in style, interior appointments marine design and engineering.
This 1/450 Scale 24.5 inch model GLM 3902 is the 1996 1/450 scale version of the SS France shortly after she entered service in 1962. The model kit contains a large and well-detailed injection molded kit with a solid one-piece hull and multiple pieces that will require glueing and painting. Paint and glue not included. This is a favorite liner to collect and/or build and makes a nice showing when completed.Click here to read more.
Now you can relive the courtly polish of Titanic's Edwardian-style without
the muss and fuss of searching for the right accessories. In an era in which
the Social Register listed vessels on which the socially prominent sailed,
the White Star Line set a standard right down to the understated, elegant
menus and place settings in the first class dining saloon. Created especially
for your Titanic Dinner party using rare originals from The Titanic Museum
Collection reproduced to create a 1912 ambience for your unique Titanic Dinner
all in one.
Click here to read more.
First class elegance with large, banquet-size napkins. Soft, absorbent yet
elegant white with famous White Star Line logo imprinted in red and big enough
to cover your lap. 25 per package. Measuring a huge 17 X 17 inches (unfolded);
8.50 X 8.50 (folded) with embossed pleated edge.
Click here to read more
A faithful reproduction of original White Star Line buff-colour stationery
with the imprinted White Star burgee logo in red and the Titanic's name at
the top left. 10 sheets and 10 envelopes in each package.
Click here to read more
These beautiful and historic playing cards featuring classic luggage labels from the 1920s through the 1950s; jewels of graphic design by unsung artists. These seductive labels, recalling a less hurried age of the great liners and luxurious hotels, were pasted on leather suitcases and steamer trunks, proud mementoes of the grand hotels, elegant ships and the lost glamour of flying.
These beautiful and historic playing cards featuring the great ocean liners from Olympic and Titanic through the 1960s; jewels of graphic design in the glamorous posters of famous ship, ports of call and the iconic companies they represented.
This is a wonderful gift book--the richness and emotion of the story are all the more poignant when enhanced by actual family photographs, the Spedden's tragic personal story and the reflection of an era that will never exist again.
Leighton H. Coleman, III, opened a window on the sinking of the Titanic, the most famous sea disaster of all time, through memorabilia while exploring the attic of his relative Daisy Corning Stone Spedden. He found many personal treasures, including a charming book Daisy had written in 1913 for her 8-year-old son, Douglas.Click here for more information
Made exclusively for the Titanic Historical Society, this delightful custom
made RMS Titanic ornament can hang in your window as a decoration or for your
special Christmas tree. Makes a great keepsake favor for your Titanic party,
too. Fully sculpted ship and water is raised and slightly rounded producing
a great three-dimensional effect. RMS Titanic is painted realistically in
her traditional black hull, white superstructure, buff and black funnels...
Click here for more details
Titanic's first class passenger list is one of the most requested reproductions and its understandable why. This is an exquisite reproduction printed from an original and rare Titanic Passenger List in the Titanic Museum Collection. Hold a real piece of history in your hand and search through the familiar names. Printed with the same color covers and includes Titanic's (future) scheduled sailings and the listing of the passengers in first and second class. This facsimile original maiden voyage booklet printed on glossy paper looks like the real thing and contains all the shipboard information that was distributed to the passengers. A real find for those seeking information about the first and second class people who were aboard the Titanic.
Awash in elegance, this pin is a skillful recreation of the reknowned White Star Line logo, a red swallowtail flag with a white star in the center surrounded in royal blue. This beautiful pin is made of baked enamel in authentic colors that is set off in solid brass. .75 inch diameter, push pin back.
Reproductions of Rare Originals. MAJESTIC, OLYMPIC, BRITANNIC, OCEANIC, TEUTONIC,
CEDRIC, GEORGIC, REPUBLIC, HOMERIC and the CUNARDER CARPATHIA.
Click here to read more
The perfect party favor or place card holder for your gala Titanic Dinner
or Titanic birthday party at a discount price when you buy the party pack.
RMS Titanic is one of the nicest little miniatures in the inexpensive price
range that we've ever seen. Comes 12 to a package.
Click here to purchase
You will be blown away with the wealth of information included in this latest offering and spend many happy hours looking over each and every deck. Titanic's general arrangements at 1/350 scale show her accommodations, engine & machinery, deck planking & frame spacing, auxiliary apparatus and so much more... Click here to read more.