Megan (jehoshabeath) wrote,

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Back to the books

Ever since last Thursday, I've been caught up in microfilm, history books, and archives. I'm back to my old research project with just about as much fervor as before.

After work yesterday, I scurried downstairs to the Library's Newspaper Reading Room and found a photo of Mr. Fleet that I'd never seen published in any of the books. It was in the Wednesday edition of the Washington Evening Star, April 24, 1912. Wednesday was the second day of Lookout Fleet's testimony. While he was being examined, his fellow seamen were off enjoying Mt. Vernon (according to the Washington Post, 4/25/1912). And the day before that, while Mr. Fleet was testifying, they were sightseeing at the Capitol and the Library of Congress. There are some photos of the group at those buildings, and I nearly fell off the chair when I saw them in front of the Neptune Fountain at LOC! At some point after Wednesday, Mr. Fleet was sent for an eye exam, but I haven't figured out which day that was yet. I would love to get over to England someday to do research there to find out more about the crew's week in DC from the local Southampton papers in May.

Today over my lunch break, I got on a photo-copy-microfilm machine to print off a copy of the new photo. While I was at it, I printed off another photo I had found of a couple of the crew making their way to the Senate Office Building on Monday, April 22. Could that be Lookout Fleet and Quartermaster Perkis in the front? Maybe or maybe not. I hope to do some photo comparisons later on with the help of some other photographs, copies of which are kindly being sent from home, where my research notebooks reside :)

Library of Congress' American Memory was also extremely helpful. I found some contemporary maps of DC that helped me to locate the Continental Hotel where the officers and crew stayed (at least some of the time that week), and even found some photos of the interior of the hotel (though these were taken a little later than the 1910's).

The maps also helped me to get a clear picture of what the Capitol area looked like in 1912. Working on this reminded me a lot of the Bucknell History digital image collection that I helped to edit a few summers ago. Most of the photos were of buildings and we had some unidentified buildings that needed to be identified. Since some buildings were torn down, others refurbished, and others replaced, so it wasn't always easy. It was fascinating to watch the development of the campus over time, though, and by the end, I could tell you just about every building that had stood on the grounds and where and when. By now, I forget, of course, but at the time, it was pretty fun. For the grand finale, I was given the chance to spend a whole day taking photos of the current campus buildings to act as a comparison for the historical photos. That included the old power house beyond the hill. My family came along for the fun and helped me check off every building as it was photographed.

At any rate, while I was digging around the New York Times, I think it was, I found an article about wireless telegraphy. The operator complained about all the amateur radio operators who chattered all evening long chewing the rag. It was quite amusing!

Today I was trying to untangle the testimonies of the men in lifeboat 6. I still need to fit in the women's perspective, but since that was published in a newspaper article, I'll have to take that with a grain of salt. I had enough trouble with the testimonies of the people who were sworn in under oath. With the scattered pieces not necessarily in chronological order and contradictions in facts, I got a little mixed up. It helped to have the description from boat 16, which came alongside 6 in the middle of the night. It seems that Seaman Archer didn't know that Lookout Fleet was in the boat alongside him that night, even though they stand side by side in the often-published photo of the crew outside the Senate Office Building. I wonder if they ever realized that.

I also wonder if Fleet had anything to say when he ran into Hichens after the interview in New York on the 20th. According to the reporter, Fleet sounded rather mad that Hichens had told all about the collision with the iceberg. (In that other article, Hichens had given his name, but not Lee's, though Fleet and Lee were in the nest together that night.) Next thing you know, Fleet gets a subpoena while Hichens, Lee, and nearly all the rest are bound for home. If my timeline is right, Fleet probably ran into Hichens late Saturday evening after the interview when Hichens was brought back from the Lapland, having been called to attend the hearings after all. I'm still confused why Hichens stays in New York until Wednesday, while the rest of the crew travels to DC by train on Sunday afternoon (a rainy day for travel). And later, the papers say that Lee and Hichens traveled back to England before the rest of the subpoenaed crew on Thursday. Was Lee also called back to stay? He didn't testify before the committee... It's rather confusing. I wonder if I can get a record of who was subpoenaed to appear before the Senate Committee? That would solve the mystery. But are Senate Subcommittee subpoenas recorded? And even if they are, would I be allowed access to them?

Until I can figure that out, I'll get back to working on lifeboat 6.
Tags: history

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