Press/Journalists
Press Release
March 26, 1998
86th Anniversary of the Titanic Disaster: Guest Speakers and Booksignings at the National Archives

Washington, D.C . . . On Monday April 13th at noon, the National Archives and Records Administration will present a free program on the Titanic to mark the 86th anniversary of the disaster and will offer discussion on the recently released Oscar winning movie, Titanic.

The program will begin at noon. The first speaker will be introduced by Michael Moloney, Cultural Attache, Embassy of Ireland. E. E. O’Donnell, author of The Last Days of the Titanic: Photographs and Mementos of the Tragic Maiden Voyage, will offer a slide presentation of the photographs taken by Irish passenger Father Francis M. Browne, a Jesuit priest and photographer, who sailed with Titanic from Southampton to Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. The photographs, selected by Irish archivist O’Donnell, were used by director James Cameron to ensure historical accuracy in his recent film.

The next program segment will be introduced by Donald Ritchie, Associate Historian, United States Senate, who is familiar not only with the 1912 Senate hearings on the disaster, but also with oral histories of the families of the Titanic crew recorded in the years following the disaster.

Ritchie will introduce the lecture and reading by Tom Kuntz, Word for Word Editor, The New York Times Week in Review, and editor of The Titanic Disaster Hearings: The Official Transcripts of the 1912 Senate Investigation. Kuntz will give the thematic focus for the hearings. On April 17, Senator William Alden Smith proposed a special investigation and his resolution, unanimously approved, authorized a panel "to investigate the causes leading to the wreck of the White Star liner Titanic, with its attendant loss of life so shocking to the civilized world." The hearings, which had to begin before surviving Titanic crew members returned to Great Britain, opened in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria, then moved to Washington, becoming the first hearings to be held in the new caucus room of the Senate Russell Office Building, and were completed in seventeen days. Crackling with tension and drama, the hearings produced a massive amount of evidence concerning the Titanic disaster. Kuntz will read from them, discuss information not presented in the recent film, Titanic, and contrast the Titanic hearings with more contemporary Senate hearings.

Finally, Daniel Allen Butler, author of Unsinkable: The Full Story of RMS Titanic, will show slides and will give a talk, "God Himself Couldn't Sink this Ship: The Arrogance Behind Titanic." Butler’s book has been praised by Walter Lord as "a masterful treatment of the Titanic disaster with a new look at the role played by the mystery ship, Californian," and was lauded by The Washington Post as "unquestionably the best Titanic book since Lord’s."

Film clips from the Academy award winning feature film Titanic will be shown and Anthony Belman, whose grandfather was one of the third-class passengers who survived the disaster, will also attend.

This free event will be held in the theater of the National Archives downtown building located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 9th Street, NW, in Washington, DC and due to popular demand advanced ticketing is required on the day of the event.

The public may verify times and ticketing information by calling the National Archives public events line at 202-501-5000. For Program information, contact Judy Edelhoff at (202)208-7345 or 501-5210 Ext. 234, by FAX at (202)219-1888, or by Internet at judy.edelhoff@nara.gov.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.

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