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Researching the Titanic Disaster

Primary vs. Secondary
To write this paper, you are going to be using primary and secondary sources. A Primary Source is evidence gathered from a person or piece of equipment that was involved in, or witnessed the incident. Primary sources include

autobiographies, treaties, radio or television broadcasts, memoirs, legal documents, ship's logs, diaries, government documents, manuscripts, travel narratives, personal narratives, photographs, cartoons, interviews, newspaper articles, archives of an organization, correspondence, account books

Secondary sources use primary sources to provide an analysis of the event. Your paper, when it is written, will be a secondary source.


Library Catalog, MaineCat, and WorldCat
Use to find all resources, primary and secondary, excluding newspaper and magazine articles.

From the library homepage, click library catalog and do a subject search on titanic. MMA has ten categories of subject headings for titanic. Now click the Search MaineCat link. There are 34 categories of subject headings. By clicking a subject heading, you can see all materials having that same subject heading or main idea. Our library has the most extensive collection of Titanic materials, but you may request materials through MaineCat using the six digit number on the back of your student ID. Allow 3-7 business days for the materials to arrive. Another useful subject heading is white star line.

Library catalogs sometimes provide the tables of contents in an item record, but getting specific in one's search can be problematic. It's important to think broadly and generally and to do a word search if you don't know the exact subject heading. Another tactic is to go to G530 and the VM 380s to browse. Pull some books off the shelf and check the tables of contents and indexes to see if your topic is mentioned.

Try the Google Book Search. This will search the full text of many books, tell you how many times your search words appear, and sometimes allow you to read the pages. These books, if we don't own them, may be ordered. Print the bibliographic citation information including title, author, publisher, year, and bring it to the desk with your name on it.


Locating Primary Sources
Most of the materials you will find in the catalog are secondary sources. To locate primary sources from secondary sources, use the bibliographies at the back of the books. Some primary sources not available in the library or through Maine InfoNet can be obtained. Print all bibliographic citation information including the title, author, date, publisher, and page numbers. Bring it to the reference desk and it will be ordered. Allow 7-10 days for out of state materials.

Newspaper articles written at the time
We have access to the paper edition of the New York Times index in the basement, and there is an electronic version at that requires a simple registration. From , click the word Archive, located under Services in the left hand column. Change the date range to 1851-1995 and enter some keywords. Once you have the dates and titles of the articles, you’ll need to retrieve the microfilm, located in the basement, to read the full text of the article. Consider searching both the paper and electronic versions for the best results.

Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature vol.1910-1914 (pages 2568-2569) is available at U of Maine Orono and other public and academic libraries in Maine. The indexed articles were written at the time of the event (primary sources) and need to be ordered through interlibrary loan.

If you’re close to Bates or Bowdoin, the electronic version of the Reader’s Guide Retrospective opens up a wealth of primary source materials. While there, check out America History and Life and Historical Abstracts; two other databases with some primary source material.

Government Documents:
"The Titanic Inquiry Project Website",
Full text and searchable transcripts of the hearings which were held in 1912; the US Inquiry in April, and the British Inquiry in May.

Wireless messages/Marconigrams:
"The R.M.S.Titanic Radio Page"
This site presents the numerous Marconi Radio messages that were sent and received. Scroll to the middle of the page to read a partial transcript and description of the messages.


Other websites, and USGA approved.


Citing Resources
For citation information, see citing resources from the library home page. MLA, Harvard, APA and other citation styles are included.











Nutting Memorial Library, Maine Maritime Academy, Box C-1, Pleasant Street, Castine, ME 04420 (207) 326-2263

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