The Record - March 1998
The Titanic in Documents and Photographs
"Not even God himself could sink this ship."
--Employee of the White Star Line, at the launch of theTitanic, May 31, 1911
When the British ship Titanic steamed out of Southampton bound for New York on April 10, 1912, it was the largest and most sumptuous luxury liner that had ever sailed. It was a monument to the promise of technology and to Victorian elegance, with magnificent oriental carpets and crystal chandeliers. It was thought to be unsinkable.
Confidence was so high that the owners and builders rejected plans calling for as many as 64 lifeboats. Although the number of lifeboats on the Titanic (20) exceeded government standards, the boats would only accommodate about half of the 2,228 people aboard. In one of history's great ironies, the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage, after colliding with an iceberg off the banks of Newfoundland. More than 1,500 people died in the accident.
Titanic beginning a day of sea trials, April 2, 1912.
(NARA, RG 306, Records of the U.S. Information Agency)
"Collision with iceberg"
U.S. Navy daily memorandum reporting the Titanic's collision with an iceberg,
April 15, 1912.
(National Archives-Northeast Region, New York City, RG 21, Records of District Courts of the United States)
The National Archives-Northeast Region holds case files of a limitation-of-liability suit brought by the ship's owners three years after it sank.
First-Class Reception Room of the Titanic (Drawing published in The Shipbuilder, 1911). (National Archives–Northeast Region, New York City, RG 21, Records of District Courts of the United States)
Lifeboat. Photograph above was taken by a passenger of the Carpathia, the ship that received the Titanic's distress signal and came to rescue the survivors. (National Archives–Northeast Region, New York City, RG 21, Records of District Courts of the United States)