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Titanic, Titanic, Titanic. One would think we’ve heard enough about a ship that sank over 100 years ago.

Well, the fact you’re reading this tells me there is still more compelling reports to convey, more theories to consider, more heart rending stories to spool out, because the sinking of the Titanic, for whatever reason, is one of the most compelling and dissected tragedies of the early 20th century. The fate of the ship now somehow has worked its way into our collective psyche and it won’t let go.

The Library of Virginia’s original Titanic web site went up before the 1997 release of the box office smash movie starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio; so the site was definitely due for an update. And we’re happy to announce that if you go to, you will find the new site with a new name:

Titanic in Black and White.

The Titanic has a seemingly endless archive of stories and many of the tales certainly qualify as out of the ordinary. Take Arthur John Priest, who served as a fireman and stoker on the Titanic. He survived but that’s nothing new for Priest as he was on the Olympic in 1911 when it collided with HMS Hawke. Priest was on other ships that managed to sink and yet he managed each time to cheat death, like the time he was serving on the Donegal when it too was sunk by a German torpedo in 1917.

Needless to say, many on the Titanic were not so lucky.

But Virginia born Robert Williams Daniel was one of the fortunate ones as he reportedly jumped from the Titanic, swam away from the ship and was pulled from the sub 40 degree Atlantic Ocean onto a lifeboat.

Daniel’s survival as it is told is a compelling story, but Daniel’s life becomes a bit more curious in the next couple of years, especially as it relates to the Titanic, when he marries Eloise Smith. You see, in 1912, Eloise Smith was also on the Titanic, eighteen years old and a newlywed.  Sadly, Eloise’s young groom, Lucien Smith, perished on the “unsinkable” ocean liner. It is quite the headline grabber:  One, a young man who swam for his life, the other, a teenaged widow.

If you want to read more about how a disaster at sea can bring people closer together, click on the link ( and read more about this one of a kind story. You will also learn a lot more about Mr. Daniel, who was born in Richmond and would continue to have close ties to the Old Dominion and its Capital city.  You can read about it in our updated exhibit; all there in black and white.

Errol Somay

Former Newspaper Project Director

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