No, not the 3-D version of the 1997 mega-hit movie, Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, but the viewing of a stunning array of newspaper images taken from Chronicling America, a featured online resource of the National Digital Newspaper Program, a cooperative initiative to digitize historical newspapers from around the United States. No special effects are needed to be drawn in and riveted by the press coverage of one of the greatest peacetime maritime disasters.
15 April 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The mighty White Star Liner on its maiden voyage hit an iceberg and within a few hours sunk to the bottom of the cold North Atlantic Ocean, killing over 1,800 men, women, children, and crew members.
Stories of bravery, sacrifice, cowardice, and tragic negligence fill column after column of papers beginning with the late editions of 15 April 1912 and for many days following. Early dispatches were filled with conflicting information, rumor, and wild conjecture, but over time the sad facts revealed the tragic scope of the disaster.
The pages you see here will be added to the Virginia Newspaper Project’s long-standing web exhibit, Titanic: 100 Years Later, a web exhibit, believe it or not, that predates the release of the movie Titanic in 1997 and even the birthday of Google. So we’re happy to update the site with a selection of images that show how newspapers communicated to readers through a canny combination of dry news, sensational story telling, and eye-grabbing imagery that the mass reading public had come to expect from the ever evolving and burgeoning newspaper industry.
And while you’re at it, please check out Fit to Print, the Virginia Newspaper Project’s brand new blog. Right now we’re featuring posts about the infamous Floyd Allen clan and the posts serve as a perfect complement to the work you’ll find here at Out of the Box. In the coming days, Fit to Print will provide additional coverage of the sinking of the unsinkable Titanic!
-Errol Somay, Newspaper Project Director