Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Titanic as Part of America's Maritime Cultural Landscape

In the landscape of American history and culture, the sinking of RMS Titanic remains one of the more powerful events of the early 20th century. The loss of Titanic had a profound impact on many families, among them some of America's more prominent citizens. The sinking of the ship also doomed a number of people who were steaming in Titanic across the Atlantic, heading to the United States with the intention of becoming Americans. One of the victims of the sinking, Franz Pulbaum, a 27 year old second class passenger from Germany, completed a declaration of intent to become a U.S. citizen on February 17, 1912. He joined Titanic on April 10, 1912 at Cherbourg, France. Five days later, he died when the ship sank. His luggage, discovered and raised from the wreck site by RMS Titanic, Inc. in 1993, was treated in their laboratories. Among the artifacts preserved inside Mr. Pulbaum's steamer trunk was his declaration of intent. That single paper artifact is one of many poignant and striking reminders of Titanic's relevance to Americans.

titanic doing sea trials
Titanic beginning a day of sea trials, April 12, 1912.
Another is the story of Swedish immigrant Alma Cornelia Pålssonlink leaves government site, who was on board with her four children to join her husband Nils, who had immigrated to America in 1910 to find a job along with Alma's two brothers. With money raised after two years' hard work, Nils sent tickets to Alma and the children to join him in Chicago. They sailed on Titanic and all of them died. Their loss, like that of Franz Pulbaum and so many others, was a loss for America as well as a deeply felt family tragedy.

The statistics of the disaster note that out of some 1,315 passengers on Titanic, 306 were U.S. citizens; 119 survived while 177 did notlink leaves government site. The loss of the American passengers was the greatest number of the dead other than those from Britain, with 223 lost out of 327 British passengers. Among the lost Americans were millionaire John Jacob Astor, Maj. Archibald Butt, military aide to President William Taft, Denver socialite and women's rights activist Margaret (the "unsinkable Molly") Brown, Macy's Department Store owners Isador and Ida Strauss and his wife Ida, Lulu Drew and her son Marshall, from Greenpoint, New York, William Harbeck from Toledo, Ohio, Mrs. Clare Karnes from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mrs. Lutie Davis Parrish from Woodford County, Kentucky, Johan Andersson from Hartford, Connecticut, and Claus and Jennie Hansen from Racine, Wisconsin. If a map of all the Americans who sailed on Titanic were plotted, while a number came from New York or nearby, other pins on that map would reach across the country, as these few names attest.

A number of other places - buildings, memorials and graves in the United States are also part of the unique American maritime cultural landscape related to the loss of Titanic. They include:



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