by Johnathan Thayer, Archivist
The Fall/Winter 2012 issue of The American Archivist, journal of the Society of American Archivists, features an article I authored entitled “Mythmaking and the Archival Record: The Titanic Disaster as Documented in the Archives of the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey.” The journal’s editors also selected a photograph from SCI’s collection to display on its cover, depicting seafarers playing checkers in the game room of SCI’s headquarters at 25 South Street during the 1920s.
My article looks back at the sinking of Titanic as experienced along the waterfront of Lower Manhattan. SCI laid the cornerstone for its headquarters at 25 South Street on April 16, 1912, one day after the sinking of Titanic, holding a ceremony that would be recorded as possibly the first public memorial held in remembrance of the ship’s tragic demise. The article analyzes SCI as a usable example—both in terms of the history of the Institute’s “hidden” archival collection and of the history of the Institute itself—of the role that archives and archivists play in the process of cultural mythmaking and in reclaiming historical experience.
Read the article below.