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Titanic at 100

Artifacts, exhibitions and material from our museums and archives and media from Smithsonian Magazine about the Titanic disaster on April 14, 1912

Did the Titanic Sink Because of an Optical Illusion? New research may have found the reason why the ship struck an iceberg: light refraction via @Smithsonian Magazine

Why the Titanic Still Fascinates Us [Image: The silent film based on passenger Dorothy Gibson's ordeal was a runaway success. Courtesy of Frank Thompson] via @Smithsonian Magazine

Seven Famous People Who Missed the Titanic [Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, Library of Congress] via @Smithsonian Magazine

Titanic leaving Belfast, Ireland, for her sea trials, April 2, 1912. (Courtesy National Museums Northern Ireland)

The propellers on Titanic’s sister, Olympic, give a sense of the vessels’ scale. Each side (or wing) propeller was the size of a two story house.

Titanic first day cover. As part of its Celebrate the Century series, issued between 1998 and 2000, the U.S. Postal Service honored the 1997 movie "Titanic" as both the most expensive and highest grossing film of the twentieth century.

Postcard publishers wanting to capitalize on the market for Titanic disaster postcards were panicked by the news that the Cunard Line’s RMS Carpathia had rescued Titanic’s survivors. Because Carpathia was neither large, nor fast, nor elegant, few photographers had bothered to capture her image. Here an unknown publisher has resorted to altering a photograph of RMS Mauretania, fastest ship on the Atlantic. The postcard was mailed in New York on May 8, 1912.

Following the route posted in the lounge, passenger Peter Belin recorded Hindenburg’s final flight on his map each day. All log books burned, but Belin's map, folded in his valise, miraculously survived. Via @Postal Museum

Survivors of the Titanic aboard the Carpathia rested on deck chairs, wrapped against the cold. Via @National Museum of American History, Smithsonian

Photos of North Atlantic icebergs taken by 17-yr-old Carpathia passenger Bernice Palmer Ellis April 12, 1912. @National Museum of American History, Smithsonian

Titanic Memorial, shielded by Old Glory, 1931 May 26 via @Archives of American Art

Oscar Scott Woody’s set of post room keys, 1912: The largest key was probably for the registered mail bags aboard Titanic; the smaller keys were likely for desks or cabinets in the post office room. These postal keys and chain were recovered from Woody’s body. Via @Postal Museum

THEODORE ELY CONDOLENCE LETTER: Theodore Ely condolence letter, 1912 Confusion reigned after Titanic’s sinking as wireless operators and the press broadcast rumors. Thirty thousand people—including reporters, relatives of Titanic passengers, and the curious—greeted the rescue ship Carpathia when she docked in New York on April 18, 1912. Via @Postal Museum

TITANIC FACING SLIP: Found on Oscar Scott Woody’s body nine days after Titanic’s sinking, this facing slip bears one of the clearest surviving strikes of the ship’s onboard postmark (Transatlantic Post Office 7). Clerks placed facing slips on bundles of mail to indicate their destination. Via @Postal Museum

First-class passenger George E. Graham, a Canadian returning from a European buying trip for Eaton’s department store, addressed this folded letter on Titanic stationery. Destined for Berlin, the envelope was postmarked on the ship and sent ashore with the mail, probably at Cherbourg, France. The morgue ship Mackay-Bennett recovered Graham’s body. Via @Postal Museum